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SRQ DAILY Jul 3, 2019

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

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Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"I can sit in my room and play the piano, but the real music is when other people share what you're feeling."

- Jerry Bilik, musician

[Planning]  Planning Board, Staff Spar Over Enforcement
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Concerns about code enforcement led to a tense Sarasota City Commission meeting with Planning Board members threatening resignations.

The issue has been boiling for months, thanks to interest among Planning Board members in enforcement of city code, in particular proffers put on project approvals. City staff asserted such enforcement matters don’t fall under the purview of the advisory board.

Planning Board Chair Eileen Normile said that’s not the case, and state law requires the board assess the effectiveness and status of the city’s comprehensive plan. “A question, ‘What is the status?’ is not an attack on anyone,” she stressed.

But Neighborhood and Development Services Director Tim Litchett said compliance with code stretched well beyond what the Planning Board considers. “I have been concerned about the appropriateness of this since December,” he said.

Michael Connolly, legal counsel for the board, said the exploration of enforcement and compliance went beyond its stated powers.

Planning Board members brought questions to Sarasota City Commissioners about ways to better enforcement. “Many Planning Board decisions hinge of the effectiveness of code enforcement,” Normile said. That’s particularly true when conditional use permits are granted.

Sarasota City Commissioner Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, who previously served on the Planning Board, welcomed concerns. But City Commissioner Hagen Brody took issue with the Planning Board tackling code matters against the advice of staff.

Brody suggested Normile and other members too often “bickered” with staff at Planning Board meetings. “The problem I have is when you swerve out of your lane,” he said. He suggested the board had become political in its decisions, and suggested too many proffers get unfairly placed on developments.

Normile said if Commissioners felt the board did not provide fair hearings, she would tender her resignation, something also stated by other board members. But Ahearn-Koch and Commissioner Willie Shaw objected and would not accept resignations.

Shaw made a motion the matter be dropped entirely, a motion approved 4-1. Ahearn-Koch cast the dissenting vote, saying she wanted Planning Board suggestions addressed.

Planning Board member Patrick Gannon said he found the tone of the meeting surprising and disappointing. “The Planning Board members who were there were totally taken back and for the most part offended,” he said. “But we serve at the pleasure of the City Commission. If they don’t like what we are doing then we can resign.” Things haven’t reached that level yet, apparently, but he expressed concerns with staff relations moving forward.

Ahearn-Koch said she does not believe there will be further problems. “The Planning Board is appreciative of staff,” she said. “I am appreciative of staff.” 

Pictured: Tim Litchett discusses staff concerns as Planning Board members address City Commissioners.

[Performance]  Holiday Concert Puts American Revolution to Song
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com

Before the sun goes down and the fireworks go up on July 4th, the Choral Artists of Sarasota will stage its own musical celebration at the Sarasota Opera House with “The Sounds of Independence.” Presented in collaboration with the musicians of the Sarasota Concert Band and local poet Cedric Hameed, the holiday concert will feature patriotic standards and traditional favorites that highlight vocal, orchestral and spoken word performance, as well as the area premiere of a piece that brings them all together.

Under the direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, the Choral Artists of Sarasota will begin the concert with the national anthem, before continuing the theme through selections like “America, The Dream,” which sets the words of Langston Hughes to music, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “God Bless America.” Later, with William Barbanera conducting, the Sarasota Concert Band will offer its part through performance of classics like John Phillip Sousa’s “The Thunderer,” Morton Gould’s “American Salute” and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

The two groups will ultimately join forces onstage for the area premiere of Sarasota resident Jerry Bilik’s “Independence.” Written in 1976 as a celebration of the United States Bicentennial, the composition mines historical documents from both sides of the ocean for a musical account of the beginning of the American Revolution. Serving as narrator, Hameed will set the stage, while also performing the parts of King George III and various members of 18th century British Parliament, using their own words from records of the time. The Choral Artists of Sarasota perform in response as the American colonists, singing the words of the Declaration of Independence in defiance of British rule. “Because it’s from the people,” explains Bilik, “it should be a chorus.”

Setting the Declaration of Independence to music proved an easy task for Bilik—“It could essentially be sung already”—the instrumentation proved a bit more involved. “[The American Revolution] changed the world,” says Bilik. “I didn’t think a piano playing along would be big enough.” Wanting to further reflect the disparate viewpoints involved, the music changes as the dominant perspective shifts. So what begins as a “stately, courtly dance” to capture the “sounds of Britain,” rapidly evolves into something much more militant as the colonists start to arm themselves.

Still, despite the occasion marking that most divisive of human activities—war—Bilik likes to think “Independence” can celebrate a coming together over shared history. “I am an extreme romantic,” he says. “Probably to a fault. But I look at music as a way of bringing people together. I can sit in my room and play the piano, but the real music is when other people share what you’re feeling.”

“The Sounds of Independence” begins at 4pm at the Sarasota Opera House. 

Pictured: Choral Artists of Sarasota. Photo by Barbara Banks.

[Philanthropy]  WBTT Awarded $500k from State for Capital Campaign

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has been awarded $500,000 in support of its Heart & Soul capital campaign. The funding came from the Department of State's 2019-2020 Cultural Facilities Program, which provides matching grants to support capital projects for cultural facilities in Florida, as part of the recently signed state budget. The Heart & Soul capital campaign stands at $7.7 million (of WBTT's $8 million goal), and the organization is working to close the campaign, which also includes an endowment to support WBTT into the future.

The campaign has provided the funds to renovate the Binz Building on WBTT's Orange Avenue campus, and the three-story structure is now known as the Education & Outreach Building. WBTT will soon have a larger theater with comfortable, permanent seating, a larger, more elegant lobby area, upgrades to lighting and sound, a 60-seat second stage, soundproof walls, larger restrooms, and professional backstage areas. Architect for the campus project is C. Alan Anderson Architect, P.A.; Construction Management firm is Willis Smith Construction.

The campus renovations are scheduled to be completed by December 2019. 

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

[Philanthropy]  Neuro Challenge Foundation Names Lessig Schenerlein as Program Director
























Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers, recently selected Kristen Lessig Schenerlein for the position of program director. In her new role, Lessig Schenerlein will execute and oversee all programming content, including all monthly programs in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Pinellas, Marion and Sebring counties. She will also recruit and train program volunteer ambassadors, identify and implement new programs and organize and lead the nonprofit’s Distinguished Speakers Series, among other responsibilities.

Most recently, Lessig Schenerlein served as the association executive director of youth development for the Sarasota Family YMCA. She also worked as the executive director for The Center of Anna Maria Island Inc. and was a co-founder and executive director of Virginia-based Sportable Richmond Adaptive Sports and Recreation. In addition, she is a consultant with the Patterson Foundation as an engagement member for its Suncoast campaign for grade-level reading and a 2017 graduate of Leadership Manatee through the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. 

Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson's

[Philanthropy]  The Haven Hires Blitz as Executive Vice President

Seasoned nonprofit professional Rebecca Blitz has been hired by The Haven to serve as its executive vice president. In that role, she will be responsible for all fundraising and outreach activities, including donor relations, special events, capital campaigns and volunteer engagement. Previously, Blitz served as the regional director for the local Make-A-Wish affiliate for five years, planning, implementing, managing and overseeing all fundraising and donor relations activities. The Haven offers programs and services for adults and children with disabilities to enhance quality of life by encouraging independence, championing inclusion and advocating for their individual rights. 

The Haven

[Philanthropy]  BGSC Requesting State Funding for 21st CCLC Program in Arcadia

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County (BGSC) is requesting the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Family and Community Outreach to fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program (21st CCLC Program) at the Arcadia Boys & Girls Club.

The proposed 21st CCLC Program will provide elementary-aged children from Memorial Elementary, West Elementary and Nocatte Elementary, as well as their families, with project-based learning opportunities such as youth development activities, service learning, nutrition and health education, drug and violence prevention programs, art and music instruction and more. The goal is for the youth participants to ultimately achieve state student standards in core subjects, while offering their families opportunities for active and meaningful engagement in their children’s education.

The submitted application will be available for download at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County website by July 19. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County

[Philanthropy]  Goodwill Receives Grant for GoodPartner Coach Program

Goodwill Manasota recently received a grant of $60,000 from the Ralph S. French Charitable Foundation in support of the award-winning GoodPartner Coach program. The GoodPartner Coach program offers individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment with job training and case management services. The goal of the program is to enable those who may have been overlooked elsewhere to gain positive personal and workplace behaviors and skills, feel the pride of earning a paycheck and move toward self-sufficiency, build a work history, and develop the experience and skills to position them for higher-paying jobs outside of Goodwill. Team members participate in a career needs assessment and the development of an individualized case management plan, then go through training components to reach desired outcomes. This is the ninth year that Goodwill has received funding from the French Foundation for this purpose. 

Goodwill Manasota

[Philanthropy]  BGCS Names Doyle Senior VP of Strategic Initiatives, Mancha VP for Advancement

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County has announced the promotion of two key staff members as the agency prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. Michael Doyle has been named Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Yolanda Mancha has been promoted to Vice President for Advancement. Both will play instrumental roles in enhancing and expanding the organization’s infrastructure and programmatic opportunities that help thousands of youth at six Boys & Girls Clubs across Sarasota and DeSoto counties.

Mancha started working for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County in 2016 as the agency’s Director of Advancement, and, in the past three years, has reinvigorated the organization’s execution of resource development strategies. Doyle joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County in 2014, and, over the past five years, has directed the agency’s vision of resource development strategies. In his new role, Doyle will work closely with President/CEO Bill Sadlo to assess community needs, identify growth opportunities and secure support for new initiatives. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County

[Philanthropy]  Perlman Suncoast Receives Grant for Educational Programs

The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast (Perlman Suncoast) was awarded a grant in the amount of $20,000 by The Exchange. These funds will help support three education outreach programs presented by Perlman Suncoast throughout the 2019-2020 Season: PMP Alumni: In Schools; PMP Alumni: Around Town; and Super Strings. PMP Alumni: In Schools brings alumni into elementary, middle and high schools, as well as special education schools and after-school programs, to educate and interact with students and teachers. PMP Alumni: Around Town offers free or low-cost performances and events in collaboration with local community venues and organizations. Super Strings provides young string musicians from the state of Florida the opportunity to perform with the PMP String Orchestra during the PMP Sarasota Winter Residency, under the baton of Itzhak Perlman. 

Perlman Music Program Suncoast

[In Conversation]  SRQ Magazine | In Conversation: Innovators In Philanthropy

In Conversation: Innovators In Philanthropy is now available to view online. SRQ MEDIA met with Steven High, Executive Director of The Ringling, Jennifer Rominiecki, President and CEO of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Lisa Howard, CEO of Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center for a conversation about harnessing innovations at their organizations. 

Click here to view the feature

[TODAY]  GALA: "Red, White & You" Bayfront Kickoff Party , July 3

Kickoff the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival and 4th of July weekend at one of the biggest parties of the year! This event is a fundraiser for Suncoast Charities for Children. Guests will enjoy an open bar, island style food stations, live music and exciting live auction destination packages. Dress is Patriotic/Island Casual.


Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - Grand Foyer, 777 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[TODAY]  SPORTS: Fireworks on the Lake 2019 , July 3, 7pm

Celebrate Independence Day a night early with music, food, concessions and a sky show on the water. Join in on a family fun, four-mile, patriotic themed race just before sundown, followed by the annual fireworks display on the lake. The race begins at 7pm, followed by fireworks at 9pm. Race participants get VIP parking for the fireworks, and a front row seat in the park after completing the race.

Nathan Benderson Park , 5851 Nathan Benderson Cir., Sarasota

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Little Sarasota Bay to Palmer Point Beach , July 4

Join John Sarkozy in a kayaking tour of the natural beauty of Little Sarasota Bay. Take a break on the "crown jewel" of our local beaches and take a swim, a walk or do some birding before paddling back to the mainland. All kayak equipment will be supplied and a short training session will be given before the trip. Call John for info., exact launch location and required reservations. 

Little Sarasota Bay

[SOON]  SPORTS: Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix , July 5 – July 7

The first Sarasota Boat Races, called the Suncoast Offshore Racing Grand Prix, took place in 1984 and have become an annual event for thrill seekers and offshore boat racing enthusiasts. 2018 marks its 34th Anniversary. 

Hyatt Regency Sarasota , 1000 Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Annual Liberty Litter Cleanup , July 5, 7am-9am

Sarasota County is looking for volunteers to help clear trash on the beaches hit the hardest by the July 4th celebrations. Cleanup efforts will take place on Siesta Key Beach, Lido Beach, South Lido Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty Beach and Blind Pass Beach.  All volunteers should report to the Site Captain at their cleaning location. 

Sarasota County , Various beaches

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Artwalk Weekend , July 5 – July 6

The Village is a residential neighborhood with a commercial overlay that creates a true live/work/play atmosphere. For 15 years, it has grown from a neglected neighborhood to one of the most unique and visited places in Manatee County. Come visit, shop, dine and stroll through galleries and restaurants with live music and unique indie art during Artwalk Weekend.

Village of the Arts, 12th St. W

[SOON]  FILM: Gazebo Starlight Cinema Series , July 5, 8pm

Join the Gazebo Starlight Cinema series with this month’s movie: Percy Jackson & The Olympians. With a screen stretched around the Gazebo pillars and family flicks back-projected from within, what better place than the facing grassy knoll to relax in a beach chair or curl up on a blanket? Bring the whole family to kick off your weekend while enjoying the park! Support local Venice Avenue businesses by bringing snacks, dinner, ice cream (or gelato!) to the Gazebo to enjoy during the movie. 

Downtown Venice Centennial Park, 200 West Venice Ave.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Splashin' Saturdays , July 6 – July 27, 10am–12pm

Join us at Splashin’ Selby Saturdays for water-themed activities, including water slides and games specifically geared for toddlers on up to children 10 years old. Enjoy the cool shade and Bay breezes under the banyans and around the lagoon and waterfall of the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden from 10am to 12pm.

This event runs Saturdays from July 6 until July 27.

[SOON]  FOOD: Oak & Stone PATIO PAW-TY , July 6, 12-6 pm

The PATIO PAW-TY takes place rain or shine at Oak & Stone's University location. The event fully benefits Nate's Honor Rescue, a Bradenton based animal rescue organization. There will be a raffle with prizes for both pups and people, as well as dogs available for adoption. 

Oak & Stone (University location), 5405 University Pkwy., Sarasota

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Caspersen Beach to Lemon Bay , July 6, 8:30am–11:30am

Enjoy quiet water and open-seated kayaking from Caspersen Beach to Lemon Bay. All kayak equipment will be provided and is included in the cost of the trip. Get outside and explore the area! Call John Sarkozy for more information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

Caspersen Beach

[SOON]  MUSEUM: The Fabric of India , July 7 – October 13

This exhibition showcases over 140 examples drawn from the internationally-renowned holdings of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and private collections. This exposition illustrates the variety, technical sophistication and adaptability of Indian textiles from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Through a range of historical dress, carefully preserved fabrics, and cutting-edge fashion, discover how Indian textiles have been interwoven with religion, politics and global trade for centuries. Or join the Curator of Asian Art Dr. Rhiannon Paget for a tour at the Gallery Walk and Talk, 10:30am–6pm on July 25. 

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Museum of Art Mondays: Fabric Design , July 7, 10am

Join the Ringling staff in the Education Building for a fabric design art-making program, bridging active creation with artwork in the Museum. Then visit the galleries to find each day’s featured artwork and learn more about it from a docent!

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  FILM: Art and a Movie: Summer Film Series , July 8, 1:30pm

See the showing of Käthe Kollwitz: Images of Life  as part of The Ringling and Monda Collections’ Summer Film Series. Ringling staff will introduce the film and lead a brief discussion about each of the three highlighted women artists of the series. Attendees are encouraged to take advantage of free Mondays at the Museum of Art to visit the exhibition before or after the film.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Deer Prairie Creek to North Port , July 10, 9am–11:30am

Join John Sarkozy, get outside and enjoy nature on this kayaking trip from Deer Prairie Creek to North Port. All kayak equipment will be supplied and is included in the cost of the trip. Call John for additional information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

Deer Prairie Creek

[SOON]  THEATER: Sophisticated Lady: Songbook of Natalie Cole , July 13, 8:00pm

Cole’s career spanned decades and genres, from R&B to pop. Her greatest success was “Unforgettable… with Love,” made popular by her father, which sold over seven million copies. In this concert, Katt Hefner pays musical homage to Cole and her music. Hefner’s extensive credits include off-Broadway musicals, television, movies, jazz festivals and much more.


Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Avenue West, Bradenton.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Family Saturdays: Circus Costumes , July 13, 10am

Explore the Circus at Ringling through a creative project: costume making! Work in the Education Building classrooms and explore the Museum with a special handout to help locate and learn more about the objects and places that inspired the project.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Ringling Reflections , July 14, 10:30am

Embark on a relaxed, conversation-based gallery tour designed specifically for people with memory loss and their care partners at the Museum of Art. Listening devices, including induction loops for t-coil hearing aids, will be provided. Wheelchairs and portable stools will be available free-of-charge for all participants. The tours are free but advance registration is required and space is limited.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Little Sarasota Bay to Palmer Point Beach , July 14, 8:30am–11:30am

Join John Sarkozy as he shows off the natural beauty of Little Sarasota Bay. All kayak equipment will be supplied and is included in the cost of the trip. Take a break on the "crown jewel" of our local beaches and take a swim, walk or do some birding before we paddle back to the mainland. Call John for additional information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Museum of Art Mondays: Colorful Venus , July 15, 10am

Join the Ringling staff in the Education Building for a Colorful Venus art-making project, bridging active creation with artwork in the Museum. Then visit the galleries to find each day’s featured artwork and learn more about it from a docent!

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  MUSIC: Van Wezel Friday Fest featuring Rebel Heart , July 19

Join us for The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall’s FREE outdoor summertime concert series! The events run from 5-9pm and are located on the Bayside Lawn of the Van Wezel. Each of the four events will feature food trucks, beverage vendors and more – it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a summer sunset over Sarasota Bay.


Rebel Heart returns to Friday Fest at the Van Wezel with some of today's most popular country songs, mixed with a healthy dose of hits from pop, rock, dance and the blues! The 5-piece band puts on a high-energy, powerful and melodic country rock act that you won’t want to miss

Van Wezel

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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