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SRQ DAILY Apr 3, 2021

"Art reminds us that humanity endures and from tragedy comes things of great beauty and joy."

- Steefel-Moore, Head of Educational Programs at The Ringling

[Education]  Impacting Lives at Bookends of Educational Journey
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

Our core belief at the Education Foundation of Sarasota County is that education changes lives—from the early years to high school graduation and beyond.

We are fortunate that our work affords us rare and valuable opportunities to see bookends of the K-12 educational journey up close and personal.

Recently, I was privileged to witness the pride, joy, awe and excitement experienced by kindergarteners and high school seniors at starting and closing chapters of their respective educational journeys.   

I was at Wilkinson Elementary School when the discovery was made that a “meteor” had landed and created a crater on campus, and NASA “scientists” (university science professors in real life) were at the site analyzing the impact.

The simulation kicked off a weeklong schoolwide immersive learning experience funded by the Education Foundation and responsive to the school’s principal and staff who requested the interactive project to help students engage safely while following pandemic-related limitations on campus activities.  

Comprehensive preparation for the science-based scenario included professional development for faculty, cross-curricular sample lessons, and lessons designed to develop scientific inquiry.

But to the elementary age students on that first day of discovery, particularly the kindergarteners, there was pure wonder. I was inspired and filled with optimism as I witnessed their innocent, inquisitive, imaginative, and often humorous engagement with and reactions to the exciting mystery.

“I knew that was a meteor. I heard it while I was sleeping last night.”

“I saw a shooting star last night. It could have been this meteor!”

“My fish tank was shaking last night. That must have been when the meteor landed.”

Leaving the site to science professors to show elementary school students how to quarantine the meteor, process the site, and make scientific observations, my team and I prepared to celebrate the achievements of high school seniors who have been selected as STRIVE award recipients.

The Education Foundation’s STRIVE award recognizes high school seniors, from each of the seven district schools, who have overcome significant obstacles and challenges to improve their lives and are pursuing a purposeful postsecondary pathway.

Their personal stories are bold testimonials about how the power of education really has changed the trajectory of their lives and helped them to realize success in their own defined ways.

While kindergarteners show wide-eyed wonder, the seniors display hard-earned resilience and determination. Their personal stories are inspiring, moving, and often profound. They can restore the souls and hopes of fortunate witnesses.

There is the story of a young woman who refused to allow a lifelong stutter to define her and instead helps younger children who stutter, sings in chorus, and appeared in a televised documentary about stuttering. She plans to be a speech pathologist.

There’s the young man who struggled to be fluent in English when his family moved back and forth between countries. He mastered his classes, started clubs and programs at his school to help other students facing the same challenge, and served on the superintendent’s advisory council. He plans to get a doctorate in engineering.

STRIVE recipients often work 20 or more hours per week at part-time jobs, earn 4.0 and higher GPAs in honors classes, and are leaders in school and community volunteer efforts. Their ability to overcome challenges and surpass expectations truly is awe-inspiring.

In coming weeks, we will be sharing more STRIVE recipients’ stories in local media and through our Education Foundation social media and website.

And everyone can help celebrate them by joining a virtual STRIVE celebration event on April 23. There is no cost to participate but many rewards to be gained by witnessing their successes. I invite you to come and help us celebrate our STRIVE award recipients and all graduating seniors by following this link.

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

[Community]  An Artful Approach to Community Healing
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

What defines an artistic masterpiece? Some point to technique, others admiration. While the beauty of a piece will always remain in the eye of the beholder, a year of instability across all stages and galleries has underscored another vital aspect to consider: arts’ ability to connect, heal and replenish our spirits. Our local arts community is now fully viewed for how closely tied it is to our physical, emotional and mental health, far exceeding the “enrichment” factor that the arts and cultural sector is most often lauded for. Fortunately, much-needed healing — for us, our community, and our cultural institutions — is underway.

In addition to dispensing medicine and crucial statistics, robots at Sarasota Memorial Hospital are connecting patients with the world beyond. This innovative approach to bridging patient health with emotional connection taken by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in partnership with Sarasota Memorial Hospital transports patients, many of whom have endured months of isolation and longing for connection, into the museum’s collections with their own personal, mechanical tour guide. Doctors and nurses also partake in social-emotional training led by the cultural institution’s education team in sessions focused on honing observation skills, building teamwork, and cultivating empathy to see each other — patient and health care professional — in a new light.

As this program vividly illustrates, an artful approach to healing is essential to our community’s recovery both during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County cast this idea as the topic during a recent conversation with donors, community members and local arts and cultural nonprofits providing arts-focused wellness efforts across generations.

Leaders from The Ringing, The Sarasota Ballet, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe guided the discussion that, as you can imagine from a community built around the arts, touched every aspect of our lives – children and families, education, health, culture, even age and connectivity. Common threads and intersections emerged.

While our session was held on-screen, each panelist expressed their relationship with Zoom as love-hate at best, which I think we can all relate to. However, everyone noted that digital access set the stage for levels of engagement and inclusivity previously unseen among audiences and patrons. The Sarasota Ballet’s Dance - The Next Generation leapt into the digital world by supplying every student — especially those who are most at risk of dropping out of school — with a tablet at no cost and providing enrichment opportunities for building self-esteem and lifelong success. The Van Wezel completely shifted its educational curriculum and school-time performances onto an online platform, aptly called “Arts Anywhere,” which has served 38,000 students, parents and teachers to date— 8,000 more than pre-pandemic audiences. Along those same lines, WBTT conducted its Stage of Discovery summer program and high school tours all via video conferencing.

Barriers to access for all ages this year were alleviated by charitable support, including for individuals living with disabilities or aging in place. You can see this unfolding through The Ringling’s Reflections Program serving people with dementia and The Sarasota Ballet’s efforts to empower those with Parkinson’s disease through dance, where long commutes for caretakers have transformed with the click of a button. Another example is the Van Wezel’s partnership with Oak Park School, which adapts drama workshops to engage over 300 students with disabilities. Zoom has also offered ways to support hard-of-hearing populations, such as WBTT’s work to include closed captioning on all its performances.

Of course, our national reckoning with racial injustice and calls for greater equity also took center stage at all these institutions. Recognizing their shared responsibility, each speaker outlined ways to ensure the arts become and remain culturally relevant, sensitive, and inviting to artists and audiences of all backgrounds. As Julie Leach, Executive Director of WBTT, shared: “Arts and storytelling are ideal for helping people build those empathetic skills and understand history in new ways.”

Which brings me back to the beginning of this conversation (which can be viewed here). Each speaker was asked to share one word that they felt encapsulated the last year within the arts community. What was chosen? Ever- Inspiring. Resilient. changing. Essential. I believe our arts community is all the above and a whole encore’s worth more. Because, as Steefel-Moore, head of Educational Programs at The Ringling, so astutely put: “Art reminds us that humanity endures and from tragedy comes things of great beauty and joy.”

Roxie Jerde is President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Government]  Prepared for Emergency
Jonathan Lewis

It’s been over a year since our Emergency Operations Center was activated in response to COVID-19, an activation that continues in 2021.

Those first days and weeks of COVID-19 were daunting. Each day, sometimes each hour, we were presented with new challenges that required county staff to think quickly and strategically, all while facing a threat that was largely unknown.

Their efforts were key, because like the rest of the nation, if not all nations, we had to ask ourselves how to strike a balance between continuing to serve the community, while protecting the health and safety of those we serve.  

After all, the world class service we provide to our residents could not suddenly stop. Even as Governor DeSantis issued an executive order for a month-long lock-down last April, we still had to keep the water flowing, the streetlights working, and our permitting offices open, to name a few.

We worked to make the necessary adjustments during that time. As preventative measures we issued upgraded Personal Protective Equipment to our emergency services personnel, temporarily closed beaches and playgrounds, and canceled events we knew would draw large crowds. This allowed us the opportunity to devise a plan to keep moving forward.

Our public libraries, for instance, were a challenge. They are so vital as community hubs and play a pivotal role in the daily lives of many. We had to figure out ways to allow the public to access our library services while still focusing on safety. 

So, we started with offering curb-side pickup for materials, which allowed patrons to still have access to physical copies of their favorite authors and educational information. We emphasized our online resources, utilized social media to provide story-time and other programs, and even used our Creation Stations to sew masks to help protect folks from COVID-19.

This is the approach we took with all of our departments. Each time county staff was challenged to find alternative and unique solutions to this unprecedented position we found ourselves in, they rose to the occasion. Our entire county can be proud of their efforts. 

Yet, as we worked through those challenges, others arose last year; Sarasota County helped to dispense federal CARES Act funds, faced the threat of Hurricane Eta, and began assisting the Florida Department of Health – Sarasota with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines; 2020 was busy, to say the least.

We were not perfect in dealing with new and unknown challenges but at every corner of the county our employees stepped up. When something did not work, they made changes so it would be better.

As time has passed, we have looked at many of our changes and realized that even post COVID many of these adjustments will allow us to better serve our community in the future. Many things have changed, no doubt. But I also believe that the one thing that has not changed is the ways in which county staff demonstrates the true meaning of public service.

What I have seen is a commitment to helping those who need it the most. I have also seen a commitment to keeping us moving. Our road and utility crews are hard at work, our emergency personnel are hurrying to potentially save lives, our solid waste crews keep our landfills open and operating, and our parks team helps keep our open spaces open while supporting health and safety. It has truly been inspiring. I have seen our communications team endlessly working on how they can better inform our community in a time of the unknown, and our health and human services department focusing on how they can help support our neighbors. Plus, so many more.

As of this writing, it is unknown how long our EOC will be activated for these events. But I have confidence we will keep finding that balance we first sought a year ago.

It has been challenging; but as we continue to follow the leadership of our county commissioners, and guidance from our state and federal partners, we’ll continue to chart a course that, while still filled with unknowns, allows us to keep moving forward as an organization and a community.

Jonathan Lewis is Sarasota County Administrator. 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Realize Bradenton: Children's Book Fair , April 17, 9am-2pm

Realize Bradenton is excited to announce that the Children's Book Fair is returning to the Bradenton Farmers' Market on Saturday, April 17 from 9am to 2pm on 3rd Avenue and Main Street in Downtown Bradenton. The 2021 book fair will feature book signings by local authors and illustrators of children’s books from ABC Artisans of Books for Children and Adults. Children will also receive a take home kit full of fun literary activities. Donations of gently used or new books will be accepted for Soar in 4. The Soar in 4 mission is to ensure children from families of all races, ethnicities, incomes, abilities, and languages have the opportunities and support they need for success in school and beyond. This program is made possible through the support of Realize Bradenton, ABC Artisans of Books for Children and Adults, Bradenton Community Redevelopment Agency, and Manatee Community Foundation. 

[SOON]  HEALTH: Blood Drive at Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex , April 9, 8:30am-1:30pm

Join us at Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex on Friday, April 9, 2021, for a fantastic blood drive. OneBlood will be available on location from 8:30am to 1:30pm. Please note the last appointment is at 1pm. Get a FREE COVID-19 antibody test. Appointments are encouraged. Please remember to eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of water before you donate. All donors will receive a Tie-Dye T-Shirt and a $10 eGift Card. Plus, a wellness checkup including COVID-19 antibody test, blood pressure, temperature, iron count, pulse, and cholesterol screening. ID is required. Donors must be at least 16 years old. Those who are 16 years old need parental permission.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sailor Circus: A Night at the Movies , April 29 – May 2, 7pm, 2pm, 1pm and 6pm

Sailor Circus presents A Night at the Movies from Thursday, April 29 to Sunday, May 2. Times include Thursday and Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7pm, and Sunday at 1pm and 6pm at Sailor Circus Arena, 2075 Bahia Vista Street, Sarasota. Price is $20 to $30. For over 70 years, The Greatest “Little” Show on Earth has featured students ages 8-18 that have amazed audiences with an amazing spectacle of youth circus arts! See them flip, fly and soar to new heights in this new production for Spring 2021. The entire family will enjoy acts showcasing beautiful aerial artistry, heart-stopping acrobatics, incredible acrobatic roller skating, lightning fast juggling and more.

[SOON]  HEALTH: Selby Gardens: Yoga in the Gardens on Mondays , April 5 – April 26, 10pm-11pm

Treat yourself to a peaceful yoga experience in beautiful Selby Gardens. This all levels alignment-based, Hatha yoga class is suitable for beginners as well as those with experience. Breathing techniques and mindfulness practices are part of every class. The class is outside so dress accordingly and bring water to drink. In addition to providing your own yoga mat, you may wish to bring props. Sign up for a series of four classes or a discounted monthly pass. Session IV dates include April 5, 12, 19, 26 with instructor Michelle Roy from 10am to 11pm at the Downtown Sarasota Campus. Fee per session of four: $75 (Members $55).

[SOON]  GALLERY: Selby Gardens: Walk in Beauty Art Series: Mornings with Norma Albertha Winter , April 5 – April 28, 10:30am-12:30pm

Walk in Beauty Art Series - Mornings with Norma Albertha Winter Session IV, Architectural Drawing. In this course, you will learn how to look at buildings and structures, to identify elements and remember details, create good compositions, to use a viewfinder, how to apply values; and complete rendering and sign. Materials list available. Session dates include April 5 and 7, 12 and 14, 19 and 21, 26 and 28 with instructor Norma Winter from 10:30am to 12:30pm at Historic Spanish Point campus. Fee per session of eight: $140 (Members $125).

[SOON]  HEALTH: Selby Gardens: Sync Into Sound: An Introduction to Sound Meditation , April 6 – April 27, 9am-10am

Discover the practice of sound meditation. Guided by numerous sounds with varying frequencies and vibrations, these tones lead you into a relaxed state of awareness in which healing can take place. Lucy, a certified sound therapist, will be your guide in our tranquil garden atmosphere. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat or towel as you may sit or lie down during your “Sound Journey.” Session IV dates include April 6, 13, 20, 27 with instructor Lucy Tight from 9am to 10am at the Downtown Sarasota Campus. Fee per session of four: $75 ($55 Members).

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Fools & Friends Acoustic Trio with Al Fuller , April 3, 8pm

The Ship of Fool‘s Nate Howell and Turner Moore will be joined by Al Fuller for two sets of acoustic music including Grateful Dead, Beatles, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, and others at the outdoor stage (weather permitting) at the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center on Saturday, April 3 at 8pm. Tickets are $12 for WSLR+Fogartyville members and $15 for the general public. Advance tickets are available at WSLR.org. Formed in 2012 in Sarasota, Ship of Fools features soaring leads, driving rhythm and tight harmonies. The band performs improvisational rock and blues, blending folk, bluegrass, reggae, and traditional American music in a dynamic mix. The acoustic trio will feature 2 members of the band and include bluesman Al Fuller. Al’s fine, bluesy baritone voice reels out tune after tune with precision, while accompanying himself on a Gibson 6-string, a Fender Stratocaster, a National Reso-phonic Guitar, assorted harmonicas, and some fancy footwork.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Sarasota Open Air Fine Art Show , April 3 – April 4, 10am-5pm

HotWorks.org presents Sarasota ‘Open Air’ Fine Art Show, Saturday and Sunday, April 3 & 4, 2021 outdoors at Phillippi Estate Park. This juried fine art and fine craft show brings 75 quality juried fine art and fine craft artists selling their original and personally handmade art in all discipline – paintings, sculpture, clay, glass, fiber, jewelry, wood, photography, and more. There is something for everyone – in all price ranges. COVID Safety Precautions will be in place such as: The art show is held 100% outdoors, Extra super-wide aisles for social distancing, All booths are social-distanced apart, Face coverings are recommended, and All booths will provide hand sanitizer. Event hours are Saturday and Sunday, from 10am to 5pm daily. There is free parking; $5 admission (15 & under free) supports Institute for the Arts & Education, Inc., the associated 501c3 non-profit organization with focus on visual arts, community enrichment, cultural diversity, and fostering art education among youth. A receipt will be provided as a donation to the non-profit; in addition, anyone who attends the art show on Saturday and would like to return to the show on Saturday afternoon or Sunday anytime – please bring your receipt for complimentary return admission. On Sunday, April 4 at 3pm – please join us for the ‘Budding Artist Competition’ integrated within the art show. Sponsored by IA&E, this unique and one-of-a-kind program encourages students in grades 6-12 or ages 9-19 to enter his/her original and personally handmade that is displayed under the Budding Artist Competition tent duration of the show. There is $250 in Youth Art awards presented as students are exposed to the rules and entrepreneurship opportunity doing art shows for a living. The program brings families to the art show and exposes them to great art. Families of the Youth Art students receive complimentary admission to the art show.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Lido Beach Spring Craft Show , April 3 – April 4, 10am-5pm

Come experience arts & crafts in their wondrous manifestations of form and function at the premiere of the Lido Beach Spring Craft Show on April 3-4, 2021 on Lido Key. Explore original, handmade arts & crafts that will beautify your home and workplace and on a daily basis while inspiring you and enriching your Life. The event is hosted by the Sarasota Downtown Enrichment Association with the Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) the event’s Special Guest. Admission is FREE. Hours are 10am to 5pm both Saturday and Sunday. Artisans and crafters journey to Lido Beach from throughout Florida and across the United States. Their extraordinary talents create a unique and beautiful marketplace on Lido Beach derived from works created from unique artistic visions and amazing technical skills. Explore works in painting, sculpture, jewelry, glass and ceramics, photography, fiber and wearable art to mixed-media, metalwork, woodworking and more. Meet the artisans and crafters making the works. While at the event, please come visit the HSSC’s Big Mac mobile adoption unit. Say “hi” to their dedicated and compassionate staff and meet their family of friends awaiting adoption. Perhaps find a new Life Companion. They are all waiting to meet you. The event layout will be adjusted with additional spacing between booths. Masks will be required both for artists and attendees. Masks will be provided for those that do not have them. Artists will have hand sanitizers in their booths and hand sanitizer stations will be spaced throughout the event site.

[SOON]  FOOD: The Bistro at the Sarasota Art Museum Easter Brunch , April 3 – April 4, Saturday 9am-3pm and Sunday 10am-3pm

The Bistro at the Sarasota Art Museum will be celebrating Easter Sunday by hosting a weekend-long brunch for all guests to enjoy. Bistro is inspired by Florida’s regional fruit stands and farmer’s markets and emphasizes local produce, healthy proteins, and artisanal specialty items brought to you by Executive Chef Kaytlin Dangaran and the Constellation Culinary team. This Easter, Bistro at the Sarasota Art Museum will offer a weekend-long Easter brunch on April 3 from 9am to 3pm and April 4 10am to 3pm. The drink menu will include a refreshing lavender lemonade, the main menu will include a roast beef sandwich with truffle lemon aioli, gruyere and arugula on a toasted baguette. To finish off with dessert, Bistro will serve carrot cake cupcakes. The Bistro fare is inspired by Florida’s regional fruit stands and farmer’s markets and emphasizes local produce, healthy proteins, and artisanal specialty items. The Bistro design is inspired by Rudolph, the history of the Sarasota High School and the 1920s provenance of the Elliott building and serves as platform to extend the curatorial vision of the Museum into your dining experience. Located in Paul Rudolph’s 1959 Vocational Shops building, beautifully reimagined by K/R Architects.  

[SOON]  GALLERY: Kira Lee Art Gallery Grand Opening , April 3, 10am

The Kira Lee Art Gallery Grand Opening will take place on Saturday, April 3 at 10am. Join them at their opening party for mimosas all day, live music, and an original work raffle for Vintage Paws Charity. Visit their website kiraleeart.com or call 888-KIRA-ART for more information. 

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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