Our cultural calendars are quite different this Fall. Performances under the bright lights of theater stages now dazzle us from screens we are accessing with clicks and fire sticks. The creativity of our regional performing arts groups has been sparked as their teams have worked furiously this past summer to imagine new opportunities for connection in ways we couldn’t have possibly anticipated when the curtains closed last March.
The show certainly must go on in our community, where cultural pursuits add to our quality of life, as do the personal economies of so many working musicians, artists and performers. Fortunately, philanthropy, too, has been given creative latitude to support these new efforts of our arts groups. Over the past 40 years, donors who had a vision for a brighter future have chosen the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to steward their hopes, dreams, and passions into lasting charitable legacies, even when they knew they would no longer be with us when that urgent call for support came like it has this year.
Through posthumous legacy giving, several local nonprofits are reimagining how the arts can enrich and heal our lives. Here are just a few stories of how gifts from those who came before us continue to have an impact on causes they cared deeply for:
- In its digital-first docuseries Greater Sarasota, WEDU PBS is following five local arts organizations in their journey to navigate and reflect our present challenges while also rediscovering the connective and healing power inherent in the arts. This programmatic support comes from The Muriel O’Neil Fund for the Performing Arts, a fund that honors the love shared by two sisters by sustaining the performing arts community through charitable giving.
- In memory of local philanthropist Charlotte P. Graver, Temple Beth Israel of Longboat Key recently received a $55,000 multi-year grant to support a scholar-in-residence for six years and provide online learning opportunities through 92nd Street Y, a nonprofit community and cultural center. Throughout the year, these events will welcome people of all ages, races, faiths, and backgrounds to connect virtually in learning that is guided by culture, arts, and entertainment.
- Through a Community Impact Grant supported by the Martha Leiter and Nancy Streetman Fund II, Choral Artists of Sarasota will have the equipment and technology necessary to transform their concerts and musical education sessions into a virtual season, aptly titled Rise Up! for its resilient flair.
As seen through these nonprofit programs, living legacies entrusted to the Community Foundation are able to realize moments of creativity. Through visionary philanthropists, future generations can enjoy these gifts in ways the original donor may never have imagined. Like all meaningful art, legacies do not leave something for people – they create something in people. As long as the human spirit thrives on the experiences that bring us together, the stage – virtual or otherwise – will be set for audiences to experience thanks to legacies of those with hopes for our future. That deserves a standing ovation.
As always, I want to hear from you. In what ways have you reimagined how you connect with others? I welcome you to share any thoughts or feelings in a personal message. Let me know. We’re listening.