Long-time supporters of the performing arts in Sarasota, Bernard and Lauren Walsh share their thoughts on why the arts play such an important role in shaping our community.
Having been living and working in the Sarasota / Manatee area for decades we have seen our area grow from a sleepy hidden gem on Florida's Gulf Coast to a growing cosmopolitan metro area. During all that time it's become clear why so many people from around the country have decided to call our area home, even when there are so many other wonderful cities along the coast in Florida.
While it's true we have an amazing waterfront lifestyle with several beautiful islands, many other cities around Florida can say the same, only the Sarasota area can boast the unique combination of a flourishing arts and culture community that spans decades beginning with the arrival of John and Mable Ringling and continuing to this day.
Along with bringing the famed circus to our area, John and Mable set the stage for our community's success with the development of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and have left behind a legacy that continues to shape our community. By looking back on how the Ringling's many gifts and contributions to the arts have lead to an ever expanding community both within the arts and the wider community as a whole. The legacy of the Ringlings may have lead other iconic figures to call the Sarasota area home, such as Paul Rudolph one of the founders of the The Sarasota School of Architecture. Sometimes simply called Sarasota Modern, the architectural ideals envisioned by Rudolph and others of the The Sarasota School of Architecture have further expanded the arts community and now world-class architects such as Guy Peterson bring further renown to our community.
While certainly not many with have the resources to contribute on the scale of the Ringlings, many more will be able to support the arts in smaller ways, whether it is making donations to area arts organizations or by volunteering and getting personally involved. As a personal injury attorney serving Sarasota, I feel it is important to give back to the community. For Lauren and my self the performing arts has always had a special appeal, and we have chosen to contribute a variety of excellent organizations including the Circus Arts Conservatory, Lauren has been on the friends board of the Sarasota Ballet, and we have supported other groups such as the Brandon Ballet and the Designing Women Boutique.
Supporting the arts can help grow the community in a variety of ways, such as improving quality of life and individual well-being, strengthening the local economy, attracting tourism, unifying our community and sparking creativity and innovation.
Lauren and I are thrilled to see others support the arts in our community such as Michael and Kathy Bush of the Home Resource.
Michael an Kathy's love of arts in it's many forms have driven them to use their status as owners of the area's premier modern and contemporary furniture store as a platform to promote the Sarasota arts community as a whole.
Michael and Kathy's contributions go far beyond donations, by getting personally involved by hosting plays from the Theatre @ Home Resource, and bringing together several artistic disciplines in events such as the Eames one-of-a-kind artist chair contest in which ten amazing Sarasota artists from different backgrounds that range from architecture to upholstery to fine arts, have transformed the iconic Eames© Chair to be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting SarasotaMOD 2017.
On the service it's easy for many to assume supporting the arts would have little impact in our area other than helping a few creative minded people continue on providing entertainment and beauty for those with means. However on closer inspection, the real picture of supporting the arts comes into clear focus. Without the arts, Sarasota would not be the amazing place to live it is today, keeping the legacy of a thriving and vibrant arts and culture scene alive in our community will ensure Sarasota and the surrounding cities, will continue to attract talented people, and maintain the unique flavor and soul of our community.
We encourage you to contribute however you can, whether it's simply getting out to see a show, take an art class, volunteer with an organization or even donate to an area foundation.
Bernard and Lauren Walsh