The Players Centre Belongs in the Municipal Auditorium

Letters

Since the May 16, 2022 City Commission meeting at which The Players Centre’s initial proposal for a lease agreement at the historic Sarasota Municipal Auditorium was discussed, my organization—the City’s first arts organization—is more energized than ever to seek a path forward in transforming the Auditorium into a world-class venue and community space.

Our enthusiasm is fueled by a deep respect for the historic and civic importance of the Auditorium and its longstanding usage for many diverse events. That deep respect comes naturally to The Players as an organization since, after all, we have been part of the City’s arts fabric for over 90 years, changing lives, launching careers, providing a supportive space for artists and helping define our city as an arts destination. We remain committed to these goals and our community-centric, civic-minded approach to theater, education and engagement.

Our commitment to these values and to the city is not merely lip service. 

As the CEO of The Players with extensive management experience, I am tasked with ensuring that our lofty goals of artistic and community excellence are matched by an understanding of dollars and cents. Our proposed investment of $6 million to $9 million stands to dramatically elevate the Auditorium’s capability to serve our needs and the needs of the community, whether it’s in the service of other arts organizations, The Bay conservancy, as an event space for corporate, private or fundraising events, craft shows, expos and any number of community-oriented programming. Over the proposed 30-year lease, that up-front investment comes out to as much as $25,000 a month, for which The Players will accrue no equity nor a guarantee of a permanent home after the lease. For the City, our proposal would save a reported $266,649 annually in operating costs. Notably, no other proposal has been made that matches our level of financial commitment.

However, the most important case to be made in favor of our proposal is our unique ability to maximize the Auditorium’s usage. While more than half of the year would be earmarked for The Players Centre and Studios productions, we anticipate utilization and activation of the space that exceeds 300 days per year. That usage far outpaces its current bookings and is only possible because we are committed to collaborating with organizations like the Sarasota Film Festival, Project Pride, Girls Inc., other arts organizations and the Auditorium’s various annual expos, in addition to inviting new users into the space. They all stand to benefit from our proposal to elevate the space and transform it into a centerpiece of The Bay’s vision of a community campus for all. By granting The Players the ability to manage the Auditorium, the community would be placing it in the hands of a trusted, nonprofit, historic, community-based arts organization with a long history of managing events, productions, educational programming and community outreach. What’s more, our nonprofit operating model reduces the overhead of management costs, allowing us to expand our community and educational programming that have become such vital pieces of the arts landscape in our region. In addition, we will be better positioned to support our hardworking team of artists, instructors, performers, and administrative staff, all of whom add to the economic and cultural vibrancy of Sarasota.

We encourage and invite continued collaboration as we further develop our proposal. Stephen Covey always advised to “think win-win.” Our proposal goes a step further in creating a win-win-win for the City of Sarasota, The Players Centre and The Bay. This is an exciting opportunity for the city in which we were founded, in which we have grown, and in which we wish to remain. We have the vision. We have the infrastructure to execute our ambitious proposal. We have a willingness to listen and collaborate. We have the capital. Now we need support from our community.

William Skaggs is chief executive officer of The Players Centre.

« View The Saturday May 28, 2022 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Dan Lobeck is Pro-Resident

Dan Lobeck is Pro-Resident

Shirl Gauthier | Aug 6, 2022

Joe Biden's Recession

Joe Biden's Recession

Rep. Greg Steube | Jul 30, 2022

Inventory Up Alongside Record-Breaking Prices

Inventory Up Alongside Record-Breaking Prices

Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee | Jul 9, 2022

Sarasota Condo Achieves a Fortified First

Sarasota Condo Achieves a Fortified First

John Mercer | Jun 25, 2022