On average, ticket sales only account for around 20% of the cost it takes to put on a production. The following patrons are representatives of some of the area’s arts organizations; these people are helping to keep our cultural mecca flourishing well into the New Year.
Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Bagby
History with arts: We got a radio at our house and I started listening to the Saturday afternoon broadcasts with Milton Cross as the narrator. I fell in love with opera at 14 years old, and I’m 91 years old now ... Saturday afternoon I would sit there following (the radio broadcast) on librettos; it wasn’t easy. I went to Europe in 1935, and I got there and my cousin said, “What do you want to do tonight in Paris?” And I said, “I want to see ‘Die Walkure,’” and I went to the opera (for the) first time.
Years with the organization/history: 50 years
How you became affiliated with organization: They had the Asolo Opera (at the time I moved here) and that got me into the Sarasota Opera. Now, I go to every opera four times — you can never see enough of the opera.
Why you donate: Because of my love! Oh my goodness, think of having an opera company in your city — and this is an opera city.
Upcoming 2013 performance looking forward to: “Turandot.”
Florida Studio Theatre
Dennis (and Graci) McGillicuddy, board chairman
Years with the organization: I have been on the board of FST for 25 years ... and Graci and I have been supporters of the theater for that long.
How you became affiliated with organization: We moved here in 1970 and I was a young entrepreneur working really hard. And sometime in the ’80s, Graci took me to a Sunday event that I didn’t really want to go to at Florida Studio Theatre. I met Richard Hopkins and that was the beginning of a deep relationship that we’ve had for about 25 years.
Why you donate: I love the theater; I love the staff and the mission of FST, which is to provide affordable and accessible theater. When I think about the fact about how many subscribers we have and the breadth of how we touch the community — so many people from every walk of life — it makes me very proud to be apart of it.
Upcoming 2013 performance looking forward to: We have not seen “Smokey Joe’s Café” yet, and I know that’s a hit.
Asolo Repertory Theatre
Joan Mendell, executive board member
History with arts: I spent a summer (studying art) in Provincetown; my teacher was Hans Hoffman, who became one of the all-time greats … watching him paint is when I discovered that I would never be a great artist, so I stopped painting … I started collecting after I got married. I always enjoyed the symphony, and reading and writing.
Years with the organization: 15 years
How you became affiliated with organization: The head of the board at the time, appointed my husband, Ira “Tubby” Mendell, and then afterward said, “Joan, I bet you’re offended, I should have asked you,” and next thing I knew, I was appointed to the board.
Why you donate: The arts are an important part of our lives. They’re nourishing and wonderful. If we didn’t have the arts here, (think of) how many people would be unemployed. It’s an essential part of the community … It brings in tourists, it brings in money and brings in taxes — it’s a win-win situation and we can’t stop supporting the arts.
Upcoming 2013 performance looking forward to: I’m hoping that (the season) remains on a high plain (set by “1776”) and I’m expecting that it will.
Hillary Steele, board chair
History with arts: I’ve always been exposed to it. I’ve gone to theater, ballets and all of these kinds of things, as a child. And I’ve just kept up with all of it.
Years with the organization: 10 years
How you became affiliated with organization: I had several friends on the board, so I came on because they were. We had a good time; it was fun. When Iain (Webb) came six years ago, that’s when I really got involved with the ballet.
Why you donate: It’s important to give back. I was raised in Sarasota, so I happen to love it, and I want to help the city and people. It makes me feel good. I’m so involved with the ballet that I know the dancers and the organization, and being the board chair, I have an inside view and can see how tight of a budget they are on.
Upcoming 2013 performance looking forward to: I’m looking forward to “La Fille,” although, I love them all.
Anne Folsom Smith, board chair
History with arts: I started playing piano at 5 years old. My mother was a piano teacher, so I’ve had a love for music since I was old enough to walk. I sang in high school and college choirs and always played piano. As far as arts are involved, it’s always been leading me to music, but I (also) love all kinds of theater.
Years with the organization: More than 20 years; came on board in 2003.
Brief history with affiliation and how you became first affiliated: As a young designer, I had (mentors) who have been in the orchestra symphony associations around the town for years and they said to me, “You need to do something outside of interior design!” I jumped in with both feet.
Why you donate: Music is the harmony that makes the world work. My role in the orchestra is to bring a level of pleasure; that feeling — when they come out of (a performance) they are different , that’s my goal. The more you give, the more you get. It’s not a question of “can I give?” it’s “who should I give to?”
Upcoming 2013 performance looking forward to: The big buzz is this Anu Tali, but I’d have to say every guest conductor we’ve had has raised the bar.
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