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SRQ DAILY Nov 21, 2020

"We were happy to see fresh faces in government this week and we watched, with interest, the new Sarasota City Commission’s first substantive meeting."

- Christine Robinson, The Argus Foundation

[Higher Education]  Startup Success Begins at SCF
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Local entrepreneurs play a vital role in building a strong economy for our region. Many of us dream of being our own boss and seeing our great idea become a booming business or brand.

What most aspiring entrepreneurs lack is the knowledge of how to take the first steps toward achieving their dream. This fall, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota launched the SCF Technology Incubator/Accelerator to help prospective entrepreneurs take those challenging first steps.

The SCF Technology Incubator/Accelerator is a place for startups and entrepreneurs to learn and grow in collaboration with financial, legal, marketing, and other business mentors to convert ideas into viable business models. Our goal is to connect participants with the resources, expertise, and networks they need to launch their companies and join the local business community.

Our director, Matt Harper, has hit the ground running since joining SCF this summer, building relationships and developing a roster of experienced entrepreneurial mentors for the program. A retired U.S. Navy officer, Matt has spent the last six years advising and mentoring entrepreneurs. He was the founding director of a Veteran business incubator in San Diego and worked with a range of businesses, including turnarounds, venture startups, small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits.

Matt’s first mission with SCF highlights the college’s long commitment to its Veteran students. The SCF Veteran Business Incubator recognizes Veterans' sacrifices and is designed to help them understand the requirements of being an entrepreneur and educate them on the building blocks of founding and running a startup business. We strive to provide transitioning military personnel with the tools to help them evaluate the potential of starting a new business or growing an existing business. The inaugural cohort of eight companies began on Oct. 6 and the program will conclude on Dec. 3 when the companies make presentations to invited investors as part of a “Pitch Day.”

The startup community we are building at SCF relies on a host of experts. Our advisors and mentors offer a wide range of support and can help entrepreneurs fast-track growth and with raising capital for their startups. We continually invite entrepreneurs, investors, prominent research-oriented universities, government participants and subject matter experts to join our startup community to interact with our program participants through locally hosted events and member company presentations. 

In early 2021, the Incubator will move into its permanent home in the newly renovated building 8 on our Bradenton Campus. In addition to the community of entrepreneurs, mentors, advisors, and coordinators, the Incubator will also begin offering onsite workspace and class A office space. Incubator membership will include access to the full host of physical and educational resources available at the college.

This program is one piece of the SCF Center for Advanced Technology & Innovation, funded by a $3.6 million Florida Job Growth Grant the college received in January 2019. The Center already includes the Coding Technology Academy and will also feature a video studio and Academic Partnership Center when complete.

The next incubator program, slated to begin April 5, 2021, will target high-growth, venture startups in the sports technology field. Please visit Innovate.SCF.edu for more information.

Our goal is to create a startup community where innovation meets opportunity that leads to the expansion of the business community in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. When local entrepreneurs come up with the next big idea, SCF can help them take their first steps to success.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[Higher Education]  Character Matters
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

From a philosophical viewpoint, is a win a win, no matter how you played? At what point, if any, are you justified to bend the rules or even break them to ensure a victory? As long as performance is achieved, does the methodology matter? How does one wrestle with moral or ethical dilemmas such as these, and by what means do we reconcile them?

One of the unique characteristics of humanity is that we are conscious beings. As such, we have the ability to look inward and tap our individual principles and values when determining right versus wrong. We also can be influenced by outward pressures such as peers, performance evaluations, or even market forces that outweigh our internal checks and balances, thus creating internal conflict.

In either case, the defining qualities of a person’s character will be tested. And, as most of us will agree, character matters.

A recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found employers care more about soft skills such as integrity, reliability and teamwork than they do technical abilities. In fact, 87% of employers in this survey ranked integrity as one of the most important qualities when seeking new job candidates. Integrity goes beyond being honest, fair, polite and respectful. It is also reflective of one’s ability to make tough ethical decisions. In short, it is one’s character in action.

Our children learn by the actions we take. The adage “walk the walk, not just talk the talk” rings true. We all have the capacity to be role models for the generations that follow, and so we have an incumbent responsibility for our moral compass to shine brightly.

History has given us notable examples of those who have led lives undergirded by a bedrock of principles, a strong moral compass, and an innate ability to build consensus and achieve a shared vision. Abraham Lincoln inspired a nation when he delivered the Gettysburg Address, leading to the eventual abolishment of slavery, while Winston Churchill inspired the free nations to continue their fight against the tyranny of Hitler during the darkest hours of World War II.

While we don’t all need to aspire to the leadership levels of Lincoln or Churchill, we should give considerate thought and pregnant pause before we, as adults, speak or act. Why? Our children are watching, employers are hiring and character matters.

Jennifer Vigne is president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Argus]  New Elected Bodies, New-Found Accountability
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

The Argus Foundation has firmly taken the historic position that the role of an elected official in office is not to cheerlead for government, but to hold it accountable to taxpayers. This means publicly identifying potential problems and issuing timelines for projects and fixes, looking at measurable results and not deferring policy to the administrators and managers.

We were happy to see fresh faces in government this week and we watched, with interest, the new Sarasota City Commission’s first substantive meeting.

Items were pulled from the consent agenda, questions were asked, time was requested to investigate items with financial implications and professional courtesy was extended to new commissioners to get their questions answered. It was absolutely the right thing to do.

We were impressed with the questioning of spending, the realization that budget accountability is the responsibility of the city commission, and the understanding that we are in an economic downturn and need to watch every penny. It was refreshing and we hope to see more.

We congratulate Vice Mayor Erik Arroyo for setting the tone from the beginning that every dollar matters. We appreciate Commissioner Kyle Battie, Commissioner Liz Alpert and Mayor Hagen Brody for being very professional and extending an important courtesy to allow an item to be analyzed further. We hope this becomes a unanimous courtesy in the future. 

“This is how we have always done it,” or, “We need to respect the decisions of previous commissioners,” should never, ever, be on the table.  Each commissioner is responsible for his or her own votes and they should not defer to a previous commission or commissioner’s votes.   

New commissioners should take fresh eyes to projects and take what they learned from the campaign trail to make sure they are holding government accountable. They should question everything and do their best to learn, and not just from staff, about projects, policy and spending.

We congratulate the city commission on a great start and setting an expectation for staff and taxpayers that you will perform due diligence and question agenda items, especially those with financial consequences. We look forward to more of this with the budget and policy in the future. We hope this accountability approach spreads to other local governments.

Christine Robinson is the Executive Director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Gulf Coast]  Here4YOUth on Mental Health
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

On a recent Friday, a distressed local high school student confided in the Student Assistance Program Specialist at her school. A friend at another school had said he intended to harm himself over the coming weekend. The SAP Specialist—a prevention and early intervention professional who provides counseling, mentoring, mediation, and other support—quickly contacted his counterpart at the student’s school, along with the school resource officer there.

They were able to find the student and talk with him about his troubles. His parents and his guidance counselor were soon informed too, and under careful watch the student safely made it through the weekend. Back at school Monday, the SAP Specialist began meeting with him regularly to assess his emotional stability and connect him to any resources he needed to keep working through his challenges. The student and his family have expressed gratitude for this intervention and support—which literally saved a life.

That’s how the system is supposed to work. But absent coordinated support like the Student Assistance Program—a relatively new innovation now in place at 10 Sarasota County schools—youth like the two in this real-life example often feel they have nowhere to turn.

That’s why Here4YOUth exists. This collaborative initiative seeks to transform the system of mental health care in Sarasota County, so that it fully meets the needs of our community’s children, youth and young adults. Here4YOUth is led by Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. But it’s really powered by more than two dozen frontline mental-health providers, as well as some of the brave youth and families who utilize their services. 

Priorities of our collaborative work include:

  • Creating a unified and coordinated system of care.
  • Prioritizing prevention and early intervention.
  • Assessing for trauma and providing trauma-informed services.
  • Supporting families in navigating the system, especially those with high-need youth.
  • Eliminating the stigma associated with mental health care.
  • Advocating for, aligning, and leveraging dedicated funding for youth mental health.

With regard to funding, consider what the gaps in our system already cost our community. According to research commissioned through Here4YOUth, untreated mental illness in children and young adults has an estimated economic cost of over $86 million a year for Sarasota County! That revelation begged the question, what (and whom) might we save with smarter investment in prevention and early intervention upstream and better access to more effective treatment for everyone who needs it?

We are on our way to finding out. Here4YOUth recently received the results of a first-of-its-kind financial analysis of our community’s entire mental— and behavioral-health system. The study looked at funding currently put into youth mental health in our community and opportunities to increase return on those investments. We know of no other county that has completed this kind of deep dive.

Among the hopeful findings:

  • Funding for youth behavioral health in Sarasota County is significant already at about $44 million.
  • The majority of it (about 70%-75%) comes from public and local sources, meaning we have opportunities to improve where and how it is spent.

Recommendations for getting a better return on the money we spend on behavioral health services include:

  • Increase school-based prevention and early intervention.
  • Expand access to community-based mental-health and substance-abuse services and prevention.
  • Increase availability of care navigators and other resources to help families and youth navigate the system.
  • Better integrate primary care and behavioral health.
  • Increase crisis-response services and models of care for youth with complex needs.

Our youth deserve every opportunity to thrive. We are grateful to all of the professionals in our region who show up every day to meet their needs. We will keep our community informed as Here4YOUth continues to advance these and other priorities.

Mark S. Pritchett is president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[SOON]  GALLERY: Online: 2020 Annual Ringling College Faculty Exhibition , September 4 – November 27, This exhibition is being hosted online.

This digital exhibition features recent work by accomplished faculty currently teaching at Ringling College of Art and Design. Featuring a dizzying array of media and artistic styles that reflect the breadth of art practices, this exhibition provides an important opportunity for art faculty members to share their work with students, colleagues, and the community.

Ringling College Galleries, Online—this exhibition is being hosted online.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Selby: 45th Anniversary Orchid Show: Women Breaking the Glasshouse Ceiling , October 10 – November 29

The year the land for Selby Gardens' Downtown Sarasota campus was purchased is also a momentous one in women's history. The dynamic display in the Tropical Conservatory celebrates the Suffrage Movement and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The Museum of Botany & the Arts will showcase our preserved plant collections. Our Historic Spanish Point campus Gazebo will also receive the Orchid Show treatment and pay tribute to Sarasota pioneer Bertha Palmer. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the official opening of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' Downtown Sarasota campus. To celebrate, the Orchid Show will honor founder, Marie Selby, and highlight the accomplishments of the many notable women who have built on her legacy and helped to make Selby Gardens home to the best scientifically-documented collection of orchids in the world. The year the land for Selby Gardens' Downtown Sarasota campus was purchased is also a momentous one in women's history. The dynamic display in the Tropical Conservatory celebrates the Suffrage Movement and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The Museum of Botany & the Arts will showcase our preserved plant collections. Our Historic Spanish Point campus Gazebo will also receive the Orchid Show treatment and pay tribute to Sarasota pioneer Bertha Palmer. 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 1534 Mound Street Sarasota, 34236

[SOON]  GALLERY: Ringling College: Sally Pettibon: Personal Geography , October 19 – December 11

"Personal Geography represents the connection I feel for my hometown of What Cheer, Iowa. This small town with its boarded-up buildings and a melancholy that permeates the streets holds so many memories of my early life. Although I lived there for only five years, it has a hold on me that’s difficult to explain. Perhaps it’s my inherent need to belong somewhere, perhaps it’s the memories of my family who are no longer alive, or maybe it’s the place itself with its rolling hills, verdant cornfields and own distinct quality of light. More likely it’s my memory of a place where both my father and I were born, where my Grandparents and Great-Grandparents lived nearby. The map of my life extends quite far, I lived in four different states by the time I was 16. But it’s this tiny forgotten town that has a hold on me both temporal and spiritual that I don’t fully understand. Combining family snapshots with photographs I have taken in What Cheer since the 1970’s Personal Geography explores the impermanence of history and memory and the permanence of place." This exhibition is open by appointment only. Please email galleries@ringling.edu to request an appointment. This exhibit began at the Larry R. Thompson Academic Center on October 19, 2020 and will end on December 11, 2020, during museum hours.

Larry R. Thompson Academic Center, 2700 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34234

[SOON]  GALLERY: Ringling College: Regan Dunnick: Plum Bobs Ulysses pt. 1 , October 19 – February 12

Featuring original paintings and drawings by renowned illustrator and long-time Ringling College Faculty member, Regan Dunnick (Class of 1976). The Patricia Thompson Gallery features rotating exhibitions by Ringling College Alumni from all majors on the first floor of the historic Keating Center. BIO: Regan Dunnick is an internationally known illustrator. He has won numerous awards and his works are in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. He has been selected to such major exhibitions as the United Nations Environmental Show, The New Pop Show which toured Europe and chronicled innovators, American Illustration, and The Hiroshima Memorial Design Show (Hiroshima, Japan). This exhibition is open by appointment only. Please email galleries@ringling.edu to request an appointment. The exhibit began at the Keating Center on October 19, 2020 and will end on February 12, 2021, during museum hours.

Keating Center, 2621 Bradenton Rd, Sarasota, FL

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Heartstrings , November 19 – November 22

Three moving works for string quartet showcase the powerful expressive potential of these instruments in the hands of a master composer. The program opens with the single movement Quartettsatz by the 23-year old Franz Schubert. Originally composed as the opening movement of what was to be a multi-movement string quartet, the work could have been lost had Johannes Brahms not recognized its brilliance and arranged for a posthumous premiere. The centerpiece of the program is another single movement from a larger work, the iconic Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. Composed when Barber was 26 as the second movement of his String Quartet Op. 11, the searing music is one of the most poignant in the repertoire, with many references in movies and popular culture.   Anton Arensky was 31 when he dedicated his brilliant String Quartet No. 2 “to the memory of Tchaikovsky”, whose death 2 years earlier had profoundly affected Arensky. The work is unique in that it is scored for two cellos rather than two violins, lending an extra darkness to this deeply affecting music. $10 Streaming Access from November 26 through December 1.

Holley Hall, 709 North Tamiami Trail

[SOON]  GALA: Night of the White Tiger with Nik Wallenda , November 21, 6pm

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is hosting a Night of the White Tiger dinner fundraiser on November 21 with cocktails at 6 and dinner at 7pm. Daredevil aerialist Nik Wallenda will be the special guest host for the gourmet dinner served al fresco in the pavilion amid the Habitat’s exotic residents. The socially-distanced fundraiser will help support the Habitat’s big cats, bears and other animals by supplementing admission funds, which have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Individual tickets are $250 and table sponsors of six guests are $1,500. Advance registration is required by November 16 by contacting events@bigcathabitat.org or 941-371-6377. Event sponsors Butcher’s Mark and Rodizio Grill are donating food for the event, which will be prepared by Chef Jarek Rosaire Dymek. Guests are asked to dress in black and white attire and will be greeted by special animal guests, have photos taken with Barry, the white tiger, and enjoy live music, silent auctions and raffles. Table sponsors will automatically be entered in a raffle for a gift and private animal encounter. Big Cat Habitat is at 7101 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota. More information is available at www.BigCatHabitat.org, by calling 941-371-6377, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BigCatHabitat.

Big Cat Habitat, 7101 Palmer Boulevard

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: HD at the Opera House: Arabella , November 22, 1:30pm

A highlight of the 2014 Salzburg Easter Festival, this production of Arabella marks the first time Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson have performed the opera together in its entirety. Ms. Fleming's performance in the title role has garnered enthusiastic acclaim, as the New York Times praises, she sings "with the plush sound, sublime lyricism, and dramatic subtlety that have endeared her to opera lovers." Strauss's opera captures the fleeting reverie of youth and Vienna's Golden Age through the romantic entanglements of two sisters. As Arabella finds the man of her dreams in Mandryka, this marriage is complicated by a case of mistaken identity and confused lovers. A comedy of errors in the pursuit of true love, Arabella is one of Strauss's most charming comedic operas. Arabella will run for 2 hours 47 minutes beginning at 1:30pm on November 22, 2020.

Sarasota Opera House, 61 North Pineapple Avenue

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: SCD + Piazzolla Collaboration with Ann Pilot , November 19 – November 22, 7:30pm except Sunday 2:00pm

Back by popular demand, SCD continues to bring their collaborations to a nuevo level with renowned harpist, Ann Hobson Pilot. This performance is originally choreographed by Leymis Bolaños Wilmott, inspired by la música of Astor Pantaleon Piazzolla. Pilot’s arrangement for the harp, violin, and bandoneon, inspired by Piazzola’s compositions, infuses the composer’s melodías into a contemporary mix of música de tango with jazz and classical influences. Through an invigorating visual and emotional experience, SCD brings a passionate and poignant performance to the Historic Asolo Theater with Piazzolla from November 19, 2020 until November 22, 2020. Performances at 7:30pm, except Sunday at 2pm.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Light Up Siesta Key and Small Business Saturday , November 28

The holidays may look a little different this year, but it is more important than ever to support our local businesses.  On November 28, celebrate Small Business Saturday, and kick off the holiday season. Even though the traditional Siesta Key Holiday Parade is canceled, they are still lighting up the Key with festive décor, a store-front and window decorating contest, and the tree lighting at the gazebo in Siesta Key Village. Local businesses are encouraged to create their own holiday specials and activities, which will be promoted by the Siesta Key Chamber.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Ringling College: Illest of Ill , October 23 – December 4, Museum hours

Illest of Illustration is an annual juried exhibition that showcases the outstanding works created by current Illustration students of Ringling College of Art and Design. Over 100 works were chosen from more than 200 submissions. The talented guest jurors, Justin and Annie Stegg Gerard, made their selections based on the quality of technique, concept, and skill of medium used. Exhibition open by appointment only. Email galleries@ringling.edu to request an appointment. This exhibit began on October 23, 2020 and will end on December 4, 2020, during museum hours.

Ringling College Galleries

[SOON]  MUSIC: The Making of a Musical with Rona Siddiqui , November 23, 5PM

An exploration of the craft of musical theater by one of the nation’s rising musical theater talents, who will be joined by local vocalists. The Hermitage Artist Retreat’s popular beachfront series continues with “The Making of a Musical” with composer and music director Rona Siddiqui, Monday, November 23, 5 PM. These outdoor, beachside events are at the Hermitage, 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood. Admission is free but registration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org. Capacity will be limited to accommodate safe social distancing, so early reservations are recommended. Masks are strongly encouraged.

The Hermitage, 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood

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