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Performing Art
The corps of The Ringling's volunteer docents are just one of the numerous valued yet overlooked components of Sarasota's arts community.
Arts and Entertainment Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 5 years ago

Unsung heroes

by: Nick Reichert Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Ringling
One of the most overlooked groups at the Ringling is the volunteer docents, who are often the public face of the institution for most visitors. In the last year alone, the number of visitors served on docent-led tours was approximately 104,912. The corps of 116 volunteer docents gave 10,013 individual tours to the Ringling’s patrons with an estimated $369,465 worth of revenue generated.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
“Our organization would like to recognize an unsung hero, our stage manager, Juanita Munford. We are so fortunate to have an extensively experienced professional like Juanita on our team. The blessing and curse of being a stage manager is that people only recognize what you do when things go wrong onstage. With Juanita, she has largely flown under the radar because she is so good at her job. During her time with us, she has been an invaluable asset to our artistic director, Nate Jacobs, and all of our guest directors. We hope Juanita knows how much we respect and appreciate her significant contributions to our continued growth and success.”
— Richard M. Parison Jr., executive director

Art Center Sarasota
“Dotty Terry, volunteer extraordinaire. Her priceless talent for us is her skill in overseeing the overwhelming task of coordinating the juried exhibitions. Seven times a year Dotty prepares weeks in advance for receiving day, when more than 300 pieces of artwork from hundreds of artists arrives.

“I also have to give a shoutout to another volunteer, Zach Gilliland, emerging artist and former exhibitions coordinator here at the center. Zach always seems to be here for us whenever we need him to help hang a show, oversee an event, build a podium or give advice. I have truly never met someone so generous with his or her time.”

— Lisa Berger, executive director






Florida Studio Theatre
“One of the biggest highlights from last season was our second Mainstage production of ‘Thurgood.’ From panel discussions to online forums, to matinee high-school performances, to our ‘Pay What You Can’ night, this show united all ages of theater fans. It got everyone talking. This conversation continued long after the final curtain call and brought an unprecedented show of support from our community. More than 25 community organizations took part in the discussion and celebration of a true hero, Thurgood Marshall, and his everlasting impact on all of our lives. It was very exciting and rewarding to witness a piece of theater live as much off of the stage as it did on it.”
— Nicole Clayton, PR Associate

Ringling College of Art & Design
“2014 has been a momentous year for Ringling College. Our students, graduates, faculty and staff continued to win awards and accolades. What really amazes me, however, is the passion and dedication of the people I get to work with. The best examples are Dr. Richard and Barbara Basch. In 2014, they gave a $3 million gift to build a new 20,000-square-foot visual arts center on our campus that will feature our first glass hot shop, new sculpture, woodworking, metals and ceramics studios.

— Dr. Larry Thompson, president






Asolo Repertory Theatre
“Our apprentice team is instrumental in the success of our theater. Nicole Cunningham in the Literary Department provides dramaturgical support in preparation for our season announcement and for all of our rehearsals. Samantha De La Riva in administration coordinates all needs for artists and the Board of Directors along with the assistance of Tara Foster. Erin Connelly, Moira DeSear, Devon Muko and Becki Zaritsky offer support in rehearsals and run the deck during all of our shows. Charlyn Lane and Hannah Black in Special Events help create dazzling opening-night dinners and holiday parties, and Brittney Biddle in Education introduces Shakespeare to thousands of students across the state. My assistant, Daniel Kelly, has his eye on all of these operations and helps me appear far more competent than I really am. Our apprentices are an emblem of our mission here at Asolo Rep. They entertain, they engage, and they inspire us all.
— Michael Donald Edwards, producing artistic director

Gloria Musicae
“As a performing organization, there are many moving parts and scads of volunteers that comprise Gloria Musicae. I’d like to highlight one person without whom we wouldn’t be able to present our performances as well as we do: our chorus manager, bass singer and secretary for the board, Glenn Breitzig. He performs all these roles with grace, dignity, incredible efficiency and humor.”
— Joseph Holt, artistic director


Fuzión Dance Artists
“Our Behind the Curtain, a 60-minute open rehearsal series with guest choreographers, is an invitation to the community to see a work in its early stages as well as dialogue with the choreographers and or collaborators about the creative process. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that allows people with dance knowledge or no experience with dance to come together and have an intimate experience with dance makers and dancers. It compares to seeing a favorite dish being created with basic ingredients from start to oven or grill ready.”
— Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott, co-founder and artistic director

The Players Theatre
“One event that did not receive a bunch of attention but will now be making a major impact in the community and beyond is our production of ‘That Wasn’t Me.’ It was the winner of our 2013 play festival. We then fully produced the play in August 2014. ‘That Wasn’t Me’ was written by local playwright Llywelyn Jones. 

“It is such a powerful message that resonates with students that Jones made the necessary cuts, and now it is available through EdExplore to Sarasota County Schools. We have our first performance for a Sarasota School of Arts and Science class Jan. 23.
—  Michelle Pingel, managing director and CEO

Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA
“What made 2014 memorable for us was the exceptional and overwhelming support of our community in rallying to complete the SMOA building campaign. From January to May 31, art supporters shifted into high gear with gifts from a broad cross-section of our community ranging from two to seven figures, pushing us close to the funding threshold.

“It is so gratifying to feel how our plans to preserve the iconic Sarasota High School building and give it new purpose have struck such a collective chord. Our community has united around having this noble building serve as the anchor for contemporary art in our region.”
— Wendy Surkis, president

Sarasota Opera
“Since 2011, the Sarasota Youth Opera program has thrived under the leadership of Ben Plocher, manager of educational activities, and Jesse Martins, Youth Opera music director. Mr. Ben and Maestro Jesse, as they are known around the opera house, spearheaded a successful production of Dean Burry’s youth opera adaptation of “The Hobbit.” Through Mr. Ben and Maestro Jesse’s leadership, young people of the Sarasota community are able to benefit from high-quality music education and take advantage of unique performance opportunities not offered anywhere else in the United States.”

 — Victor DeRenzi, maestro and artistic director



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