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Longboat closes curtain on plan for theater

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

In an effort to scale back the ultimate cost to build an Arts, Culture and Education Center on public property, the Longboat Key Town Commission voted last week to cut the black box theatre and about $7 million in cost from the plan.

The meeting was held at the same time as the former Amore Restaurant was being demolished in preparation for what will some day be a site for a center that will offer art classes, workshops, productions as well as gallery space.

And just as the Amore walls fell piece-by-piece, Center Committee Chairman and Commissioner Jim Brown made his case for removing the black box theatre, something he originally saw as integral to the success of the project.

“The black box theatre has sort of taken over the entire project. What we really want is what we wanted in the early stages of the community center plan years ago. Not a professional space, but a place for community events and activities, but not professional theatre. I think we should back down from the professional theatre idea, it’s costing a lot of money and it makes the space of the facility go up to 9,600 square feet. That is too much money,” said Brown.

Brown did not close the door completely on a black box theatre in the future and said that if a single donor came forth with the money it would definitely be possible.

Brown’s determination and advice to the commission echoed the input the Ringling College of Art & Design gave the commission last month. Ringling President Larry Thompson said that the project should be reduced to around $10 million and in his professional opinion he thought that would be feasible for fundraising as well as reasonable in terms of management.

The town has an agreement with Ringling in which Ringling will manage the facility and the town will donate the land. It is the responsibility of the Longboat Key Community Foundation to raise the more than $10 million necessary for the center’s construction.

Until the money is raised, the 4.8 acres the town owns east of Publix will be transformed into a small park-like space and the existing parking will allow outdoor events to be held.

Meanwhile, now that Ringling and the town are in agreement on the size and the scope of the project, fundraising for the project can officially commence. The plan is to have the center built within three years.

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3 Responses for “Longboat closes curtain on plan for theater”

  1. Sunny Gravy says:

    This project is unnecessary as there are similar venues in downtown Sarasota. Let the Town of Longboat Key voter’s decide the merits of this boondoggle.

  2. Jeff Goss says:

    With a tax assessed value of $8 Billion. Get what you want.

  3. eugene a jaleski says:

    Why doesn’t Ringling contribute the profit they made selling the art center? I am guessing it was upwards of $2 million.

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