Picture it – November, 2009 – My wife and I are attending a benefit for the Gulf Coast Foundation and a woman introduces herself, “Hi, I’m Wendy Surkis and I hear you’re from New York. I moved to Sarasota from there in 2000.” If you haven’t met Wendy, you should. Her energy is infectious and she has been a dear friend ever since.
Anyway, I subsequently learned that she is spearheading a project to raise $22 Million to turn my old high school building into The Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA) focusing its attention on modern art. I thought this was a great idea – expecially considering there will be contuned education. I imagined the tagline, “The Old SHS Building Keeps on Teaching!” Wendy had raised about $11 million at the time so I asked, “How much has come from the Alumni?” She thought for a moment and said, “about $5,000.”
I was astonished! How could it be that there wasn’t a major push by alumni to have their mark on the future of this building? Why isn’t there an army of graduates leading the way? The answer, I discovered, was an army of former students had fought aganst the destruction of the building and felt that since Ringling College of Art & Design had taken it over the battle was won. NOT SO! We can still lose the building. If SMOA does not raise the full $22 Million the project will go the way of the Dodo (Pun intended). So – What to do? What to do?
The answer became obvious when I reviewed the naming opportunities within the building. The Auditorium will be a venue that will host myiad events and will get a lot of attention. It delights me that those of us who were priviledged to study and learn in this great building will see announcements in the press: TUESDAY NIGHT AT SMOA IN THE SHS ALUMNI AUDITORIUM THERE WILL BE A…How cool is that? It only adds to the fun knowing that it will be located where Mrs. Repulski taught Advanced Humanities and Mama Deal set us straight on Political Science – thoughts that will certainly rasie a smile or, in my case, shivers remembering their classes.
Ladies and gentlemen we have to do this, and here is how:The total amount we need to raise is $2.5 million for this naming opportunity. To get the ball rolling I donated $250,000 and along with Dick Theilen ’58 and Cope Garrett ’51, the members of the Class of '73 and others, we are close to $500,000.
It is now time for the classes to work together and raise the rest. We have levels of recognition available – see the DONATE! page. So post your memories on our "S.O.B. Stories" webpage, form a group, or gather your class.
Let’s get this done!
Committee Chair & SMOA Board Member