Sarasota Orchestra CEO Joe McKenna is not a look-back kind of person. He prefers to respect traditions, but go through life with a forward attitude and forward thinking, both of which probably contributed largely to the Sarasota Orchestra’s ability to change its name, almost seamlessly, for its 61st season.
“We’ve kept a pretty steady hand through pretty extraordinary times,” McKenna says. “As far as the demographic shift, it’s been an intense year, and the orchestra has made its way through the shift with great concerts and education, showing resilience and depth of character to all of the people involved with it.”
McKenna says the Sarasota Orchestra was nominated to be a finalist in the Cultural Organization category because of its steady hand and forward approach.
“It’s an affirmation of all of the great things we strive to be every day,” he says. “It is an especially nice year for our staff and musicians to enjoy the recognition. The best thing of all is, in this busy, hectic world, the chamber stops to look around and recognize the great things happening in the community.”
McKenna’s next step is to make certain that culture prevails in the community and for the orchestra to continue to be a main attraction that keeps people coming to the Sarasota area.
“We have to start thinking about assets that may not be affected by this oil situation, and culture is certainly one of them,” McKenna says.
AT A GLANCE
Address: 709 N. Tamiami Trail
Start date: 1949
Number of employees when started: Volunteer-run organization
Number of employees now: More than 200
Advice: “Honesty and people — two guiding things.”
Biggest challenge: “In the nine years I’ve been here, more than what the challenges are, it is more interesting to think of what character has been displayed with how the challenges were met. The name change in the 60th year was a huge undertaking, but we did it through preparation, smart planning, compassion and execution, all with the best long-term interest of the organization and community in mind.”
Where do you see your business one year from now? “We will continue to be shaped by three things — economic forces at work, which are bigger than all of us; continued radical change in technology and how we live and behave; and a huge demographic shift, which will continue to happen.”