Holley Hall usually bears witness to the flurry of notes, rehearsals and performances of the Sarasota Orchestra. However, this afternoon the symphony hall hosted a quite different ensemble all together. Though the hall wasn't filled with musicians, it was filled with an ensemble just as essential to Sarasota County's arts climate: arts educators.
The Arts Education Task Force presented their 14th Annual Principals' Recognition Luncheon honoring, discussing and reflecting on the past year's advances in arts education in the dozens of elementary, middle and high schools across Sarasota County. With a healthy dose of both educators, representatives of local arts institutions, school board members and public officials, each table in Holley Hall was abuzz with conversation and future collaboration. All for the aid and security of not only the arts themselves, but the quality of Sarasota County's school system.
"A lot of networking and future collaborations and ideas happen here," says Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, "but what is important is to celebrate what has been accomplished over the last year."
Principals from all across the county were there to reflect in the main part of the program: "Points of Pride." All the various principals spoke on their proudest achievement in the arts over the past year "What I'm most proud of this year is hiring a new theater teacher," says Dr. Linda Nook, principal of Riverview High School, "and that half of our student body is involved with at least one art form."
With the luncheon taking place at the home space of the Sarasota Orchestra, the theme of the event was "Tune into Arts Education." In that vein, Shirley as well as Nancy Roucher, Angela Hartvigsen, Brian Hersh and Lori White, superintendent of Sarasota County schools, spoke on the accomplishments that county-wide effort and collaboration akin to that of a great orchestra has accomplished.
The musical theme of the afternoon was exemplified by spirited and sensational performances by the Venice Middle School Chorus and the Young Philharmonic Orchestra. And with the arts in the air, all in attendance could not help but be proud of what has been accomplished,establish new relationship, and charged to face the challenges that lie ahead.
"We are all here today because of dedicated officials and teachers who leave an arts legacy for our children," says White. "And we need to continue and not take the arts for granted, so children not yet born can enjoy the arts and have this experience in their schools."