Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Support Arts While You Can

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Support Arts While You Can

Article excerpt

In the arts world, you can never assume that all is well.

In the days before the New York City Opera filed for bankruptcy after failed fundraising efforts, The New York Times called on its longtime maestro Julius Rudel, now 92, who said, "I would not have thought in my wildest dreams that I would outlive the opera company."

I can only imagine how he must feeling, seeing the end of an institution to which he devoted his life.

Now we have to rethink what once seemed unthinkable: the loss of a beloved home to the arts.

That's why it is important for arts lovers to keep a close eye on the organizations that they care about most by attending events and performances and donating as you can to ensure they survive.

Too often, people get complacent, assuming that these organizations will just survive for eternity, counting on others whose bold-faced names appear in the social columns to keep them well funded. But even those without deep pockets can make a difference.

It's also important to connect with these organizations when you like a particular program or series, or when artistic choices begin to trouble you. The critical feedback is essential to ensure that these companies are growing and responding to audience desires.

When arts organizations lose their way, they lose far more.

We've seen similar situations here in Sarasota. It was nearly 20 years ago when Asolo Repertory Theatre was near bankruptcy.

Audiences turned their backs on the company during the tenure of artistic director Megs Booker, and the Asolo had difficulty emerging from lingering debt. Emergency fund-raising efforts were a challenge because potential donors weren't sure what they were supporting.

There are people who will support an organization no matter what, but many others need some evidence that what the company is doing is worthy of their contributions.

The Asolo was saved at the last minute through a complex arrangement involving Florida State University, which gave the company a chance to regroup and reprogram. Howard Millman, who had once been the company's managing director, came back as producing artistic director, and restored its traditional repertory schedule and resident company, along with a sense of loyalty. …

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