Arts and cultural organizations awarded close to $2 million in grants

Siesta Key’s Crystal Classic will benefit from a first-time award

Craig Mutch and Walter McDonald created this castle during the 2015 Crystal Classic. File photo
Craig Mutch and Walter McDonald created this castle during the 2015 Crystal Classic. File photo

Thanks to a unanimous vote of the Sarasota County Commission on June 21, 33 arts and cultural organizations in the county will receive a total of 36 grants adding up to $1,931,737 for the 2017 fiscal year.

The funding comes out of Tourist Development Tax revenue collected by the county.

Among them will be Siesta Beach Festival Inc., which requested funding for the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition held each October on Siesta Public Beach.

Fern Tavalin, the grant manager for the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, told the members of the county’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) on May 19 that Siesta Beach Festival was a first-time grantee in the process.

Jim Shirley. File photo
Jim Shirley. File photo

The total amount going to South County organizations is $239,327, including the funding for the annual Chalk Festival, which relocated a couple of years ago from Sarasota to Venice. That represents a 12.4-percent increase over the current fiscal year’s total for South County arts and cultural groups, according to TDC documents.

A total of 37 organizations applied for the FY17 grants, Tavalin noted in her TDC presentation, and all of them were eligible for funding. However, one withdrew its application because of the death of its executive director, she pointed out.

Funding recommendations are based on three criteria, she explained: the artistic or cultural purpose of a program; its appeal to tourists; and administrative competence of the organization submitting the application. “This year,” she said, “no one scored below 90 percent, which is pretty amazing … a new high for us.”

“The key is that it’s fair,” Commissioner Charles Hines, who chairs the TDC, said of the process. Three or four years ago, he added, “I would say … that wasn’t the case.”

In years past, Commissioner Christine Robinson posed numerous questions to Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, about what she called insufficient outreach to South County applicants. A number of them felt the awarding of grants was tilted in favor of North County organizations, Robinson pointed out in 2012.

Just before the County Commission vote this week, Hines joked to Shirley, “Can we go back to the old format when the [Commission Chambers] is filled with everyone screaming [about the lack of fairness in the process]?”

Robinson made the motion on June 21 to award the grants as recommended by the panel that reviews the applications. Commissioner Carolyn Mason seconded it.

The Chalk Festival is one of the beneficiaries of the grant process. File photo
The Chalk Festival is one of the beneficiaries of the grant process. File photo

The grants are as follows:

  • Art Center Sarasota, Common Ground, $51,263;
  • Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, Music on the Move, $50,556;
  • Asolo Theatre, The American Character, Year Five, $94,482;
  • Avenida de Colores, Chalk Festival, $50,172;
  • Coexistence, Embracing Our Differences, $53,990;
  • Florida Studio Theatre, Summerfest 2017, $46,764;
  • Florida Studio Theatre, 2017 Sarasota Festival of New Plays, $46,764;
  • Florida West Coast Symphony, d/b/a Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra 2016-2017 season programming, $95,436;
  • Fuzion Dance Artists, Main Stage 11th Season, $11,331;
  • Gloria Musicae, Too Hot to Handel, $14,243;
  • Gulf Coast Heritage Association, Holly Days and Mangrove Lights, $49,627;
  • Jazz Club of Sarasota, 37th Annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, $15,484;
  • Key Chorale, Key Chorale Season 32 — Beyond the Music, $23,204;
  • La Musica di Asolo, The 31st Year: The Search Continues, $19,882;
  • Mote Marine Laboratory, Coastal Crocs, $95,436;
  • New College Foundation, New Music New College: Visiting Artists 2016-2017, $51,808;
  • Ringling College of Art and Design, Ringling College of Art and Design 2016-17 Annual Galleries Exhibitions & Visiting Artists Program, $37,029;
  • Ringling College of Art and Design on behalf of the Englewood Art Center, Destination: Gulf Coast, $14,888;
  • Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Director Iain Webb’s Tenth Anniversary Season, $95,436;
  • Sarasota Concert Association, Expanding Our Season, $40,083;
  • Sarasota Film Festival, 19th Annual Sarasota Film Festival, $95,436.00;
  • Sarasota Opera Association, Sarasota Firsts: Opera Lovers Weekend 2017, $95,436;
  • Sarasota Pops Orchestra, The Sarasota Pops Orchestra 2016-2017 Season, $5,690;
  • Siesta Beach Festival, Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival, $22,118;
  • The Circus Arts Conservatory, Circus Sarasota 2017 Winter Production, $95,436;
  • The Florida State University on behalf of The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation, A Sense of Beauty: Medieval Art and the Five Senses, $92,573.00;
  • The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Selby Gardens’ 2017 Season: A New Beginning, $95,436;
  • The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast, Classic and Classical: Celebrating the Sights and Sounds of Sarasota, $54,535;
  • The Players, Broadway Theatre Series, $43,192;
  • The Players, Summer Sizzler Series, $10,798;
  • The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, On Stage with the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, $24,083;
  • The Venice Symphony, The Venice Symphony Welcomes Joseph Swensen and Tatiana Roitman, $52,300;
  • Van Wezel Foundation, World Class Entertainment, $95,436;
  • Venice Art Center, Venice Art Center 2016-2017 Exhibits, $42,373;
  • Venice Little Theatre, Shoulder to Shoulder 2016-17, $94,482;
  • Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, 2016-2017 Season: Family, Roots, and Heritage, $54,535.