Next week when 35 young, prodigious musicians arrive in Sarasota for the Perlman Music Program’s two-week winter residency, Lynn Rasys will still feel like the new kid on the block.
Rasys, the former executive director for the Florida Suncoast Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is less than two months into her position as development director of the prestigious program.
A newcomer on the PMP scene, Rasys is still adjusting to life in her new office — an unmarked building between the USF Sarasota-Manatee and New College campuses, which she shares with PMP/Suncoast Executive Director Elizabeth Power and a handful of volunteers.
The volunteers, whom Rasys describes as “invaluable and indispensable” have the spent the past two days laminating lanyards for the program’s Member Lanyard Night, which marks the first event of PMP’s seventh winter residency, and Rasys first event as a staff member.
“It’s not been overwhelming, just busy,” Rasys says. “The phone has been ringing off the hook with people looking for tickets to the gala, tickets to rehearsals, directions to USF ... ”
More than 12,000 people flock the residency’s outdoor performance tent each year to watch the organization’s free events.
Rasys says her biggest challenge right now is raising funds for the 2011 season, which she plans to do by building strategic partnerships within the community.
For a woman whose only performance experience was as a majorette in her high school marching band, Rasys is an interesting choice for development director.
Rasys, who spent 13 years working for Tropicana Products in the communications department before joining the Susan G. Komen team, is brimming with fundraising and marketing ideas.
She spent the first few weeks with the organization meeting with local businesses and networking with community leaders.
Two weeks ago, she met with the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, which led to the creation of PMP’s first “Lakewood Ranch Night,” an outreach reception and student recital aimed at bringing more Lakewood Ranch residents and business owners to PMP events.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting more people out to see these kids,” Rasys says.
Each year PMP/Suncoast raises $500,000 to help support the residency and it’s a new education outreach program, which earlier this year placed PMP’s Vinca Quartet in 12 Sarasota and Manatee County schools for three weeks of interactive lessons and community concerts.
Rasys feels her two children might not have given up on their instruments so soon — her daughter played viola and her son played bass — had Vinca been around when they were in middle school.
“They were absolutely fantastic,” she says of the New York City-based quartet. “I think that’s a piece of the program that’s important for the community to be aware of. It’s in our schools and it’s reaching such a diverse array of students.”
Rasys’ immediate goal is to roll out a strategic plan for the following season that includes forming more community partnerships, seeking more grant opportunities and courting more major donors.
She says she’d like to expand the PMP program book to include paid advertisements from area businesses, as well as encourage more families to take advantage of the organization’s free events.
“Mr. and Mrs. Perlman love children,” Rasys says. “If a family comes to the tent, an usher brings them to the front row. I can’t think of a place where I walked in with my kids when they were little and that happened!”
IF YOU GO
The Perlman Music Program kicks off its winter residency Dec. 28, with 18 free orchestra and chorus rehearsals, master classes and student recitals running through Jan. 7, at USF Sarasota-Manatee.
“Lakewood Ranch Night” begins at 6 p.m. Jan. 6, in the Selby Auditorium.
The program concludes at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8 with a celebration concert at the Sarasota Opera House. For a complete schedule of public events, visit www.perlmanmusicprogramsuncoast.org. For tickets to the celebration concert, call 366-8450, Ext. 1.