Longboat community arts center plan keeps progressing

The plan for a community Cultural Arts Center continues its momentum. 

Last week, the Longboat Key Town Commission reached consensus to enter into a Pre-Construction Agreement with Ringling College of Art & Design which will allow the plan for the Center to move forward.

The plan centers on Ringling building and operating a community Art and Cultural Center on about four acres of property the town has purchased to the east of Publix.

Ringling is responsible for the architectural design as well as running a Center that is slated to not only replace and expand on the Center for the Arts, which is closing in the Village, but also to offer an education component.

Ringling President Larry Thompson attended the Town Workshop and brought the commission and community up to speed.

“We have entered a contract to sell the north-end Art Center and it’s the best time for us to sell that property. We are not sure what we are going to do to maintain our presence on the Key while the new Center is being built. The new facility will be built by us, designed by us and we will have a long-term lease,” said Thompson.

Thompson added that the Ringling has recently merged with the Lifelong Learning Academy and he expects there to be that component as well as arts, black box theater and space for town meetings at the new Center.

Mayor Terry Gans asked Thompson if the success of the proposed Center is predicated from attracting people from off the island to attend events on the key. Thompson said he believed it would be for people who visit or live on Longboat Key. Gans said that the Town Center was one of the main community suggestions made by the Urban Land Institute to enhance Longboat Key when it published its study. He added that the timing of the town buying the Rooks property was fortunate.

The commission gave unanimous consensus for the town to move forward with the Pre-Construction Agreeement.

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