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SRQ DAILY Mar 12, 2022

"This is the beauty of New College, where creative expression is in full force and paired with applied learning. "

- Patricia Okker, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  A Session With Lasting Consequences
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

This session could be called the best of times and the worst of times.

First let’s get to the good. The legislative delegations for Sarasota and Manatee counties worked wonders in bringing home dollars on important projects. With a record $112-billion budget crafted by the Legislature, funded largely by federal rescue dollars embraced with equal scorn and enthusiasm, there was more opportunity to snag local benefits than ever. But even by that measure, lawmakers from this area absolutely overperformed. 

I can’t recall a Legislative Session when more millions of state dollars have worked their way to Sarasota for such a variety of goals. In coming months, the state will spend $23 million on a new state park at Rattlesnake Key, more than $25 million on various spending at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, more than $5 million for STEM education at Mote Marine Aquarium and Laboratory and millions more on road improvements from Fruitville Road to Palmetto to Boynton Beach.

Structural improvements in state financing also took place from a change in formula that will grant Safe Children Coalition full requested funding for the first time in nearly a decade. Brena Clark, CEO of the social services agency, says the roughly 30% hike in state funding will ensure equity for children and families in this judicial circuit.

Every lawmaker living in the region brought significant investments home, including Sens. Jim Boyd and Joe Gruters and Reps. Will Robinson, Fiona McFarland, Tommy Gregory and James Buchanan. Expect a lot of applause as they get introduced at chamber events and Tiger Bay meetings and visits with local governments.

And then expect policy questions to begin. For this was a year for upsetting policies to pass and worthy causes to die. A condo collapse in Surfside couldn’t convince lawmakers to update building inspections in a year when there’s more urgency than ever before (and hopefully ever again). Massive consumer cost increases on property insurance couldn’t bring the House and Senate together around insurance reforms crafted carefully by Boyd.

Instead, lawmakers devoted themselves to a series of cultural war issues normally pushed away by state lawmakers during election years. Florida passed legislation known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ act, though they keep telling media not to say that because the bill actual says don’t talk about sexual orientation or gender identity in K-3 or inappropriately at any age (in other words don’t say gay in school).

Other important issues included making available lists of instructional materials so any member of the public can object to their inclusion in schools. During one hearing, an angry member of the public arrived with a good teaching to show respect and manners to transgender children, furious such smut could be on the shelves. Other bills allowing lawsuits against teachers who discuss critical race theory or even HR seminar speakers who teach employees about racial sensitivity managed to make it through the House and Senate. 

Some of these issues will stoke strong political reactions— on both sides of the aisle. But what none of them will do is address burning issues affecting any Floridian in direct ways. It aims to please an extreme viewpoint but like incites as many people on the other end of the spectrum. 

On top of it all, there’s still no resolution on a congressional redistricting map that needs to be in place this election season.

Cheer the dollars. When we use the term lawmakers to describe senators and representatives, it honestly undersells the most substantive part of the job. The accounting and rallying of public resources solves social problems in direct material ways, some of which will be directly visible in this community for years.

Much of the legislation, if we’re honest, won’t survive court scrutiny to ever go into effect. What survives will result in litigiousness and in some cases true emotional pain. Make sure elected officials know how you feel about all of it.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  New College Students Explore Passions, Build Skills Through Performance
Patricia Okker, patokker@ncf.edu

Performance is a vehicle for self-discovery and, at New College of Florida, the academic experience is the fuel.

Whether our students are interning at local symphonies or performing compositions in our on-campus concert series, there are countless opportunities here for artistic growth.

And we just happen to be located in Sarasota-Manatee—one of the most culturally vibrant areas in Florida—where students can intern at arts-and-humanities-based organizations and build career skills while fostering creativity.

One of my favorite examples of this artistic engagement is New Music New College (NMNC)—a program, founded by Professor Emeritus of Music Stephen Miles, that has involved New College students since its very first performance in 1998. This program not only allows students to showcase their original work, but it also gives them the opportunity to help produce the concerts in which they perform. 

Just next month, there will be two free performances of compositions by New College students as part of “NMNC NewFest”— a festival of five concerts, including three by cutting-edge visiting artists. These events are supported, in part, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded “Connecting the Arts and Humanities on Florida’s Creative Coast” initiative.

On April 10, New College student chamber musicians will perform works composed by their fellow students in Sainer Auditorium. On April 24, the Sarasota Piano Quartet (a chamber group of the Sarasota Orchestra) will perform works by our students. Both concerts will be livestreamed, and I encourage the community to listen to the work of these ultra-talented young musicians and composers.

Truly, NMNC—which is now under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Music Mark Dancigers,Ph.D.—has given our students an incredible platform for the past 24 seasons. Since the program’s inception, more than 350 students have performed in, composed for and/or worked at NMNC events. There have been 100-plus performances that involved presenting 70 world premieres and bringing more than 200 visiting professionals to campus.

Students have had opportunities to devise experimental music, choreograph, dance, present digital animations, have their compositions played by professional musicians, and meet some of the most groundbreaking artists of the era (such as pianist Kathleen Supové, violinist Miranda Cuckson, and composers/performers Miya Masaoka and Jen Shyu).

Once, New College students even performed their own compositions on instruments they created and built themselves. A total of 27 students, faculty and staff members sang from the balconies of our ACE Academic Center as they turned Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (for its 200th anniversary) into a multimedia performance, following a template from composer John Cage. Six percussionists stood in a circle, performing on amplified two-by-fours, with an audience all around them.

“NMNC has been so great for students because they can come to our concerts for free, right here on campus. And some of our concerts have student performers with all kinds of backgrounds and skills, including those whose areas of concentration lie outside of music,” says Ron Silver, the producer of NMNC. “Students in NMNC even staff our front-of-the-house and videocam operator teams, and they get experience in arts management.” 

This is the beauty of New College, where creative expression is in full force and paired with applied learning. And, with every inspired academic experience comes another opportunity to build real-world skills that will serve our artistic students well into their future careers.   

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

Image courtesy New College.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Jazz Festival: Swinging Under The Stars , March 13 – March 19, Varies.

The Sarasota Jazz Festival Swinging Under The Stars will take place from March 13 through 19 at Nathan Benderson Park. Main stage performers are Shelly Berg, Dick Hyman, Russell Malone, Ken Peplowski, Houston Person, John Pizzarelli, Catherine Russell, Arturo Sandoval, Terell Stafford, Tierney Sutton, and La Lucha Trio. Free Jazz in the Park on March 13 from 3pm to 6pm, Trolley Pub Crawl at UTC on March 15 from 6pm to 10pm, VIP Reception from 5pm to 6pm and Main Stage Concert at 6:30pm on March 16, Morning Jazz Film from 9:30am to 12pm and Main Stage Concert at 6:30pm on March 17, Main Stage Concert at 6:30pm and Late Night Tower Jazz Jams from 9:30pm to 11:30pm on March 18, and Afternoon Jazz Party from 12pm to 5:30pm, Main Stage Concert at 6:30pm, and Late Night Tower Jazz jams from 9:30pm to 11:30pm on March 19. 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sarasota Opera: Salute to the Stars Awards Luncheon , March 15, 11:30am

Salute to the Stars Awards Luncheon will take place on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 at 11:30am at Sarasota Yacht Club. On stage a singer’s voice is commanding. Imagine how you will feel hearing it just feet away from your table. Join us and celebrate the outstanding Sarasota Opera Apprentice and Studio Artists who will be honored in 2022. Enjoy a gourmet lunch while you experience performances by the awardees. The awards are presented through the generosity of visionary individuals as well as the Sarasota and Manatee Opera Guilds.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Great Escapes: Journey on the Orient Express , March 16 – March 20, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 8pm and 4pm

Join an unfolding murder mystery as the orchestra, conducted by Steven Jarvi, travels the fabled route of Europe's most famous train, enjoying the music along the way on Wednesday, March 16 at 5:30pm, Thursday, March 17 at 7:30pm, Friday, March 18 at 5:30pm, Saturday, March 19 at 8pm, and Sunday, March 20 at 4pm at Holley Hall.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: The Players Centre: Some Enchanted Evening , March 16 – March 27, 7:30pm and 2pm

More than those of any composer or lyricist writing for the stage, the songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein have become an integral part of our everyday lives. This stunning collection of their compositions places five performers in a theatrical setting: first ‘backstage,’ where the songs are sung as personal interplay, and then ‘onstage,’ where the songs are presented to an audience. Offering its performers an opportunity to explore timeless songs within their own styles and sensibilities, SOME ENCHANTED EVENING delights its audience with a glorious parade of genuine hits. Single tickets available Sept. 1, 2021 ($26.50 preview/ $29.50 single/ $14 student). Subscriptions are available now. The show dates March 16-19, 22-26 at 7:30pm and March 20, 26-27 at 2pm.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Arts Advocates Gallery: Monthly Speaker: Fine Art Photography , March 17, 11am

March 17, 2022, 11am, Fine Art Photography – Who are today’s leading fine art photographers and rising stars? We will hear from Christopher Jones, curator of photography and new media at The Ringling Museum. Arts Advocates is keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 situation and will decide whether their monthly speaker programs will be in-person luncheons at Bird Key Yacht Club or held via Zoom as each event nears. These programs are open to the public. Visit ArtsAdvocates.org for more information.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Ringling: Homeschool Third Thursday: Women in the Circus , March 17, 10am-12pm

Women in the Circus will take place on March 17, 2022. March is Women’s History Month and this year we’re exploring the important role women played in circus history. Learn about circus greats like equestrian May Wirth, aerialist Lilian Leitzel, and human cannonball Silvana “Cha Cha” Zacchini. Students will learn about these amazing women and more, and discover how phenomenal performers challenged traditional gender roles in the early 20th century. Join us on the third Thursday of each month, for a special day designed just for homeschool families. Tickets are timed in order to avoid over-crowding; please check in at the Visitors Pavilion at the time noted on your ticket. Please note that this is a self-guiding program. Wristbands, a map, and a program packet with activities and information will be provided at check-in and families are invited to explore the museum at their own pace.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: An Evening with Chris Botti , March 17, 8pm

For over two decades, Grammy Award-winning master trumpeter and composer CHRIS BOTTI has amassed a spectacular variety of honors, including multiple gold and platinum albums, to become the nation’s largest-selling instrumental artist. His mesmerizing performances with a stunning array of legends such as Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Yo-Yo Ma, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Andrea Bocelli have cemented his place as one of the most brilliant and inspiring forces of the contemporary music scene. Whether he’s performing with illustrious symphonies or at renowned venues around the globe, his unparalleled crystalline and poetic sound transcends musical boundaries. Chris Botti will perform on Thursday, March 17 at 8pm.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Key Chorale: Cirque des Voix The Next Decade of Wonder , March 18 – March 20, 7:30pm-9:30pm, 2pm-4pm, and 1pm-3pm

Cirque des Voix® is Key Chorale’s dynamic collaboration with The Circus Arts Conservatory. Join us on March 18 7:30pm-9:30pm, March 19 2pm-4pm, and March 20 1pm-3pm as we celebrate the next decade of Cirque des Voix®! Experience this unique fusion of the circus and musical arts in a performance unlike any other. See world-class circus artists combined with the 100+ voices of Key Chorale and the musical mastery of the 40-piece Cirque Orchestra in our biggest and boldest production yet.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: The Ringling: Literati Book Club March , March 18, 10:30am

Join The Ringling Art Library for Literati, a book group that discusses books about art and subjects reflecting the Ringling collections. The March 18 book club will take place at 10:30am: Scoundrels, Cads, and Other Great Artists by Jeffrey Smith. This program will be virtual via zoom until further notice. This program is free. For further information, contact the Art Library at 359-5700, ex. 2701 or elisa.hansen@ringling.org.

[SOON]  GALLERY: SPAACES Gallery: Properties of Ground: Post (post) Painterly Abstraction , March 18 – April 2, Gallery hours.

Properties of Ground: Post (post) Painterly Abstraction, A Two Person Exhibit with Michael Crabb and Tom Stephens. The artwork in this exhibition is foregrounded by the artist’s practice, making the experience of painting paramount to the outcome. Post-painterly abstractionists rejected the mysticism of abstract expressionism and their preconceived references to the external world. They created a purely factual kind of art which functioned in terms of the basic elements of the medium itself; form, colour, texture, scale, composition and so on. Two abstract process painters, well known in the Sarasota/Bradenton/Tampa Area, Michael Crabb and Tom Stephens show their works in this very Post (post) Painterly exhibition focused on the studio experience. These painters emphasize the physical act of painting as an essential part of the finished work, taking precedence over content or representation. Opening Night Reception is Friday, March 18th, 2022 from 6pm to 8pm. Open Exhibition Dates are March 19th through April 2nd By Appointment Only.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: SPARCC Runway Annual Fashion Show , March 18, 10am

Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) is hosting its sought-after, annual fashion show on Friday, March 18, 2022 at The Ritz Carlton Sarasota. As in past years, SPARCC Runway #SRQ2022 promises to be buzzing with excitement. Guests will enjoy valet parking, a champagne toast, shopping in the premiere, pop-up fashion boutique (featuring great deals on high-end fashion pieces from SPARCC Treasure Chest), a delicious luncheon complete with wine service, and an unforgettable and fantastic runway fashion show. Registration and shopping at the pop-up boutique begin at 10am, with the seated luncheon and the fashion show following at noon. This year’s Event Chair is Diane Muldoon, and Darci Jacob is the Fashion Show Chair. All proceeds support SPARCC’s free and confidential programs and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Anastasia , March 18 – March 20, Varies.

Inspired by the beloved films, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical ANASTASIA is on a journey to Sarasota at last. From the Tony Award-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, this dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love and family. Anastasia features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, a lush new score by Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) based on original direction by Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak with choreography by Peggy Hickey and tour direction by Sarah Hartmann. Anastasia will take place on Friday, March 18 at 7:30pm, Saturday, March 19 at 2pm and 7:30pm, and Sunday, March 20 at 6:30pm and 1pm.

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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