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SRQ DAILY Feb 12, 2022

"This commitment to celebrating Black history and culture is evident at New College, not just in February, but all year long. "

- Dr. Patricia Okker, New College oF Florida

[Under The Hood]  The Pros and Cons of County Splits
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

The conventional wisdom in statewide redistricting is that having the fewer ways you split a community into, the better. I’m not so sure, and don’t know that it to have more votes in a 120-member or 40-member chamber of the Legislature who feel beholden to a few voters in your county.

I’ve always felt a larger delegation benefited regions. Frankly, I’ve also thought a bipartisan delegation helped regardless of who was in the majority party in the Legislature. But that’s not to say the argument “keeping communities whole” lacks merits. That said, let’s look at how Sarasota and Manatee fared based on each perspective on redistricting.

On the one hand, Manatee makes out well on the whole counties front. Plus, the county will have two senators and three representatives in the Legislature, one more senator than it has now. But that doesn’t tell the full story. Two of the three House districts have boundaries contained entirely within the county. Today, only one of the three representatives for Manatee County in the House actually lives there, Rep. Will Robinson. Thanks to the new lines, another of the three, Rep. Tommy Gregory, will move to the county to run in the district where most of his constituents live. The third district, an open seat, has half its geography in Manatee and the rest in Hillsborough.

But for Rep. Mike Beltran in Hillsborough announcing his candidacy this week, it would be likely the entire Manatee House delegation next year would be made up exclusively with Manatee residents for the first time in decades.

Meanwhile, the Senate seat remains dominated by Manatee, as it is now, and it seems virtually impossible anyone who doesn’t live in the county could win the seat. Sen. Jim Boyd of Bradenton represents the district now. 

Similarly, Sarasota County has a Senate seat, held now by Sen. Joe Gruters, that seems bound to remain Sarasotan in perpetuity, even as lines creep north into Manatee. The county will have three House seats, including a Charlotte seat that now pops north into the Englewood area. It’s represented now by Rep. Mike Grant of Port Charlotte, and it would be hard for a Sarasota resident to unseat him. Like in Manatee, two House districts lie wholly in the county, held now by Reps. Fiona McFarland and James Buchanan. But the county has lost Gregory is every sense, from its delegation and soon its voter rolls. It loses Robinson too, who sheds parts of downtown Sarasota as his district becomes more compact. If either of them still stands with Sarasota on local issues, it will be purely out of sentimentality. And whenever their successors come into office, it will be by folks who most likely will never campaign for a Sarasota vote. 

On top of that, neither county is part of a St. Petersburg-centric district now represented by Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby. The region’s only Democrat is running for Congress in Tampa Bay, so she’d be gone regardless. The seat, though, feels like a loss. It’s not just that Rayner-Goolsby felt particularly compelled to embrace local issues from Siesta Key incorporation to Piney Point cleanup. Some of her predecessors couldn’t find their way to Sarasota without Google Maps.

I think of the Piney Point situation. Arguably, Robinson and Boyd worked far more behind the scenes with a Republican administration to quickly marshal state resources and secure state dollars for clean-up. But watching hearings in Tallahassee, Rayner-Goolsby as a member of the minority party could ask harsh and pointed questions that helped keep public pressure up.

It’s nice when Republicans have full control of state government to have mostly Republicans in the delegation, but even in times like this, having at least one Democrat has uses. And who knows if at any point in the coming decade partisan power will shift, in administrations or the Legislature.

Bottom line, the new maps more firmly assure residents of the counties will be represented by their closest neighbors. But it’s losing a few friends outside the county who may no longer feel beholden to local voters.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  Community Partnerships and Cultural Programming Enrich the New College Experience
Patricia Okker

As we celebrate Black History Month—my first as president of New College of Florida—I am amazed by what our campus community has created.

For a fairly small college, our February programming is vast and vibrant, thanks to the visionary work of Queen Zabriskie, Ph.D. (New College’s interim dean of diversity, equity and inclusion; and an associate professor of sociology) and her team of dedicated students, faculty and staff. This year’s theme, “Black Healing,” is illustrated through everything from Black literature listen-ins and spoken word nights to film screenings and symposiums.

“Black History Month is an opportunity for all of us to come together to celebrate Black history, culture, life and achievements. It is also a time to learn about the global Black experience, as well as the contributions that Black people have made to the U.S. and the world,” Zabriskie says. “We encourage the community, at New College and throughout Sarasota-Manatee, to learn, celebrate and heal with us this month.”

Most of our Black History Month events, from now until March 5, are free and open to the public—virtually, on our campus, and at locations throughout Sarasota-Manatee (such as the Ringling College of Art and Design library, Art Center Sarasota and the WSLR 96.5 radio station). I hope our local friends can experience the program with us this year, as it continues to expand with support from our generous community partners.

More than 24 of our students, staff and faculty members at New College have contributed to planning 20-plus events (sponsored by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Florida Humanities), including the “Black Arts and Performance” series, the “Conversations on Race and Ethnicity” public lecture series, the “African Diaspora Film Festival,” the “New Schools of Black Thought Symposium: Reclaiming Wellness,” and a bell hooks literature display in our library. 

This commitment to celebrating Black history and culture is evident at New College, not just in February, but all year long. We are proud to be a partner in the “Visions of the Black Experience” Film Festival, in collaboration with the Sarasota Film Festival, the Boxser Diversity Initiative, the Multicultural Health Institute, and the Manasota Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Just last month, we were honored to host the awards ceremony for the “Emerging Filmmaker Scholarships”—a new initiative through the “Visions of the Black Experience” Film Festival. As Paul Ratner, managing director of the Sarasota Film Festival explained, these scholarships foster a new generation of filmmakers. 

The scholarship recipients included: Will Mauricette (first place), a Ringling College student and the director of the crime thriller, Monopoly Money; Keishen Lloyd (second place), a 2018 Ringling College graduate, whose short film, Color of Love, is about an interracial relationship; and Gospel Nwachukwu (third place), a student at State College of Florida, who created a short psychological horror film entitled Free. We are thankful to our “Visions” collaborators, as well as the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, for helping make these scholarships possible.

Through initiatives like the “Visions” festival, the “Emerging Filmmaker Scholarships” and our Black History Month programming, we are connecting with our community in new, collaborative ways to celebrate culture together. Please join us in celebrating Black History Month.  

Patricia Okker, Ph.D., is the president of New College of Florida. 

Photo Courtesy New College of Florida

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Great Escapes: Be Mine , February 9 – February 13, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 8pm and 4pm

Love is in the air as highly acclaimed pops conductor Sarah Hicks leads a Valentine's Day program for all on Wednesday, February 9 at 5:30pm, Thursday, February 10 at 7:30pm, Friday, February 11 at 5:30pm, Saturday, February 12 at 8pm, and Sunday, February 13 at 4pm at Holley Hall. Celebrate love's sweetness with music from Gone with the Wind, La Dolce Vita and more.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Sarasota Open Air Fine Art Show , February 12 – February 13, 10am-5pm

HotWorks.org Presents the 7th Sarasota Open Air Fine Art Show on February 12 & 13, 2022 from 10am to 5pm Outdoors at Phillippi Estate Park/Mansion/Creek, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail. Professionally juried fine art and fine craft show with 70 participating artists - the focus is quality, not quantity - something for everyone in all price ranges. All artwork is original and personally American handmade by the artist present at the show – paintings, sculpture, clay, glass, fiber, wood, jewelry, photography and more. Free Admission; $5 Convenient Parking supports Institute for the Arts & Education, a 501c3 non-profit organization with focus on visual arts, cultural diversity, community enrichment and fostering art education among youth. Save your receipt for in-and-out access duration of the show. 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens: Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light , February 13 – June 26, Garden hours.

This winter, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Selby Gardens) will spotlight the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the most significant photographers of the 20th century, together with the poetry of legendary singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith in a special exhibition on view throughout the garden’s 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus. Marking the sixth edition of the Gardens’ annual Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, which explores the work of major artists through the lens of their connection to nature, this immersive exhibition puts a selection of Mapplethorpe’s photographs of orchids, hyacinths, and irises, and excerpts of Smith’s poems and lyrics on flowers and nature, in dialogue with new horticultural installations inspired by the two artists’ work. On view from February 13 through June 26, 2022, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light is curated by Dr. Carol Ockman, Selby Gardens’ Curator-at-Large and the Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History Emerita at Williams College. The Gardens will host an Evening with Patti Smith, on Tuesday, February 15, a lecture and performance with Smith that will shed new light on this body of work. 

[SOON]  MUSIC: Guitar Sarasota: Emerging Artist Series: Chattanooga Guitar Duo , February 14, 7:30pm

Join Guitar Sarasota for a six-concert series that showcases local and regional musicians who perform a 45-minute concert, followed by a question and answer session. Free and open to the public, thanks to a generous and ongoing grant from the Vera and Imre Hecht Foundation, these concerts entertain, educate, and raise awareness of the beauty of classical guitar music. Chattanooga Guitar Duo, Michael McCallie and Alejandro Olson, will take place at 7:30pm on Monday, February 14, 2022 at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Michael currently serves on the faculty at Covenant College and Chattanooga State Community College and maintains one of the largest classical guitar studios in the State of Tennessee. Michael is the Executive Director of GuitarChattanooga, a guitar-driven non-profit organization based in Chattanooga, TN. Alejandro Olson is a professional classical guitarist with a Master of Music degree from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. He competes in international guitar competitions in multiple countries as well as national competitions in the United States. Alejandro has won 1st prizes at Le Domaine Forget International Guitar Competition, the Grossmont Community Concert Association Competition, the American Protege International Music Competition at Carnegie Hall, and the Denver Classical Guitar Competition.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: The Four Phantoms in Concert , February 14, 8pm

An extravagant celebration of the iconic music of Broadway and more, THE FOUR PHANTOMS IN CONCERT brings together four Phantoms from the Tony Award-winning The Phantom of the Opera for an unforgettable night of entertainment. The Four Phantoms features an extraordinary quartet of performers, including Brent Barrett, John Cudia, Franc D’Ambrosio and Ciarán Sheehan under the music supervision of two-time Grammy Award winner David Caddick and music direction of Ryan Shirar. They are also joined by special guest Kaley Ann Voorhees, one of the youngest sopranos to sing the role of Christine on Broadway. This event will take place on Monday, February 14 at 8pm.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Mattison's Brings on the Romance for Valentine's Day , February 14, Restaurant hours.

The love is in the air at Mattison’s or, better said, the Love is in the Food. All three Mattison’s Restaurants will be serving their special chef crafted Valentine’s Day menus on Valentine’s Day, February 14th . Sweetheart Specials will be available all weekend. You will fall in love all over again dining on delicious menu items created by Chef Paul Mattison and his culinary team of experts. Whether you are staying at home or going out, let Mattison’s do the cooking for you so you can enjoy spending time with that special someone. Dine-in at any one of the three award winning restaurants or get it to-go for a romantic evening at home. All three restaurants offer outside dining. Mattison’s Forty-One offers inside dining. Mattison’s Forty-One will feature a Valentine’s Taste for Two that will surely bring out your romantic side. The Taste for Two is a three-course dinner for $139 per couple with House Made Beet Ravioli, a Poached Pear Salad, Hand-Carved Chateaubriand, and a Dessert Trio. Champagne and wine additions are available. Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille and Mattison’s City Grille will feature a Seafood Duo and a Surf and Turf as Valentine’s Day headliners in addition to their regular menu with special additions such as Heart Shaped Ravioli, Filet Mignon, New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Grouper Piccata, or Rosemary Honey Glazed Salmon just to name a few. Finish off your meal with the Dessert Trio – chocolate covered strawberries, red velvet cupcakes, and chocolate truffles or opt for the Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake, Flourless Chocolate Espresso Torte, or Crème Brulée. Mattison’s Forty-One will have Joe Thayer on the piano and the Lisa Ridings Duo will entertain you at City Grille. 

[SOON]  SEMINAR: The Ringling: Gallery Talks: Lots of Love , February 15, 10:30am

Join The Ringling to explore various aspects of the Museum and its collection. Tickets are free with Museum Admission and are available for pick-up on the day of the program. Tickets are limited. Members may reserve tickets in advance 2 weeks prior each program. Lots of Love will take place on Tuesday, February 15 at 10:30am. Love is in the air. In this gallery tour, we’ll examine all types of love—from doting mothers to amorous couples— in a belated Valentine’s Day celebration.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Gladys Knight , February 15, 8pm

Seven-time Grammy winner GLADYS KNIGHT has enjoyed #1 hits in Pop, Gospel, R&B and Adult Contemporary, and has triumphed in film, television and live performance. Known for hits such as “You and I Ain’t Nothin’ No More,” “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “If I Were Your Woman” and “That’s What Friends are For,” Knight has recorded more than 38 albums over her 50+ year career in the entertainment industry. This performance will take place on Tuesday, February 15 at 8pm.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: The Players Centre: Beehive: The 60’s Musical , February 16 – February 26, 7:30pm and 2pm

Big voices with big hairdos! BEEHIVE celebrates the powerful female voices of the 1960’s with such timeless hits as “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Be My Baby,” “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Me and Bobby McGee.” Told from the perspective of six young women who come of age in this enigmatic decade, BEEHIVE takes us from their first Beehive Dance to the challenges we faced as a nation. Single tickets available Sept. 1, 2021 ($26.50 preview/ $29.50 single/ $14 student). Subscriptions are available now. The show dates are Feb. 16-19, 22-26 at 7:30pm and Feb. 20, 26-27 at 2pm.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: The Hermitage Artist Retreat: Unscripted 2.0 with Hannah Hasan , February 16, 5:30pm

“Unscripted 2.0” with Hermitage Fellow Hannah Hasan will take place on Wednesday, February 16th at 5:30pm on The Lawn at Van Wezel Hall. Unscripted is a unique collaboration between the Van Wezel Foundation and the Hermitage Artist Retreat in which audiences share an interactive encounter with an award-winning Hermitage artist, inviting audiences to be an active part of the experience by responding to a prompt as part of the program. Following a successful virtual season in 2020-2021, “Unscripted 2.0” launches in person with celebrated poet and storyteller Hannah Hasan. Hermitage Fellow Hannah Hasan is an award-winning spoken word poet, speaker, and storyteller who believes that our stories can set us free. With themes that center home, social justice, racial justice, women’s rights, and more, Hasan is often commissioned to write and perform, present keynote addresses, and facilitate workshops for events, conferences, and meetings. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Asolo Repertory Theatre: The Great Leap , February 9 – February 16, Varies.

Born in the United States but inextricably tied to far off and forbidden China, Manford Lum finds his home on the basketball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown. As fast-talking as he is athletically skilled, Lum wisecracks and dazzles his way onto a college team headed for a 'friendly' exhibition game in Beijing. As the story bounces between 1989 and 1971, past relationships collide with present day revelations right up to the final buzzer. Smart, feisty, and hilarious,  The Great Leap is about family, history, and learning that every game is a second chance. Contains mature language. Recommended for age 16+. The Great Leap will show February 9–April 2, 2022.

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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