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Looking Ahead: Town Center concept moves forward, Foundation looks to future

The town of Longboat Key, the Longboat Key Foundation and Ringling College of Art and Design are working toward building a new cultural center on the island.

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  • | 7:00 a.m. January 4, 2017
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The proposal for the Longboat Key Center for Arts, Culture and Education — a center piece of a long-anticipated town center on the island — will come into focus in 2017, as the town works with Ringling College of Art and Design and the Longboat Key Foundation on a concept that includes flexible theater space, known as a black-box theater.

Two stakeholders share what they see coming up for the project in 2017.

Dave Brenner, Longboat Key Foundation board member and former vice mayor

The Longboat Key Foundation looks forward to a productive 2017. Our pursuit of initiatives to enhance the quality of life on Longboat Key is continuing unabated after a productive 2016. 

Dave Brenner
Dave Brenner

After a period of organizing, in 2016 we were instrumental in opening our local medical facility, dipping our toes in the solutions to local traffic concerns and working with Ringling College of Art and Design to move forward with plans for our Town Center.

In 2017, we see a collaboration with Ringling to develop an arts, culture and education center on the Town Center site. The momentum is well underway with the town's creation of a memorandum of understanding with Ringling. 

The medical center will hopefully expand to its full potential and permit us to be proud of the creation of a free-standing enterprise.

Others have picked up the traffic issue solutions, which should allow us to play a support role as needed.

Since life never stands still we expect that other opportunities for the foundation will surface above any local issue which is not apparent at the time of this writing.

Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design

Both Ringling College of Art and Design and the Town of Longboat Key are excited about working together in 2017 to create the Longboat Key Center for Arts, Culture and Education to be located on the Town Center property close to Publix. The Town recently made a major step forward during a commission workshop when they unanimously approved moving forward with Ringling College to develop pre-construction documents.

The idea for this center originally came from the Urban Land Institute’s study that called for connecting the community – and citing that one of the most effective means to do so would be through arts and education. The town approached Ringling College to determine its interest in working with them to create such a center, given the college’s history with the Longboat Key Center for the Arts. We embraced the idea. Under the concept, Ringling College, with the town’s input, would construct and upon completion, manage the ACE facility. This new center would replace the college’s Longboat Key Center for the Arts.

Larry Thompson
Larry Thompson

Major progress toward the goal of construction of this facility is anticipated in 2017. A pre-construction document will be generated in which the responsibilities of the town and the college will be outlined, as well as the programmatic specifications and preliminary design of the building. Although not fully developed, the current thinking is that the proposed 40,000-50,000-square-foot space will include classrooms, art studios, a black box theater and multi-purpose space for Town meetings, events, and potentially performances and film screenings.

The college and the town are thrilled to be working with the Longboat Key Foundation in 2017 to help raise funds for this exciting project. Indeed, the Foundation has already developed a case statement outlining a possible program, a preliminary fundraising goal, and even a conceptual design of what the building might look like.


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