Dear Congressman Buchanan,
I am writing you to respectfully request consideration of a meeting regarding the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium and Dr. Thompson's proposal of Ringling taking over the auditorium for a sound stage.
I run an annual holiday craft show called Atomic Holiday Bazaar which was created for a younger audience, however, that being said, it's been well received by the community and will be in its 5th year in December. Atomic exists because I saw a void for artsy crafty people who may be a little bit edgier and avant garde in comparison to regular craft shows. For me, Atomic, represents something that is open to all but speaks to the artsy person in town who may not have a lot of money to spend but can come to my show and afford buying something for the holidays that is hand made and unusual. This is a large chunk of my income and I have used the auditorium because it is an affordable and wonderful facility that suits the style of an Atomic show.
I spoke at the City Commissioners' last week during their weekly meeting asking them to please consider rescinding their vote in exploring destroying the guts and exterior of this historical building by handing it over to Ringling College. This building is an art deco gem, is alive and kicking and is a cultural treasure for Sarasota. If Ringling is given this building, the door of this building closes to the public for good. I saw you on the news yesterday giving a sound bite from the Film Festival where you stated something in that “our town, Sarasota, is unique in all the cultural offerings we have for its citizens.” That’s where people like me who run shows at the auditorium fit in. We are a huge part of the cultural fabric of Sarasota. If you want statistics regarding how this building is used, how it relates to local and tourism dollars, I am happy to provide them to you. We also provide affordable entertainment for the people of Sarasota, and if that’s not good culture, I don’t know what is.
The City Commissioners' take no heed to the advice and requests regarding shelving this proposal. There seems to be a lot of back pedaling regarding how Dr. Thompson and some of the Commissioners' even thought of this ridiculous idea of appropriating this beautiful building for Ringling. Sunshine Laws exist for a reason and I am contacting both City and County Commissioners along with the EDC to release anything related to soundstage discussions, although I suspect a lot of these conversations occurred in private and off line. If you have a room full of people against an idea with only one in favor (Dr. Thompson) and three commissioners’ who refuse to budge or respect their constituents valuable comments which were not purely emotionally based, but given with thought, realistic facts, etc., and a timeline that doesn’t quite add up to how the proposal landed or was presented to the citizens of Sarasota or the fact that Dr. Thompson is on TV acting as if this idea just “popped” into his head, well it’s smelly.
Will you please meet with me and a few others to discuss the importance of this building relating to not only the economy but how the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium has an amazing historical pedigree and cultural significance and needs to remain with the people and not be turned over to a private entity. We really need your support. Please, you have an entire town who is heartsick over this.