Sarasota Orchestra Board Chairman, Virginia Toulmin, gave some details regarding the re-working of the 45-year old Sarasota Music Festival, which, as late as last week, had been slated to be "on hiatus" for 2010, in order to "re-evaluate its mission, format and structure in light of the current economy." To all you unwashed out there, that means they're broke. Old-time country singers and bluesmen prided themselves on being broke, whereas orchestras instead go "on hiatus" and "re-evaluate their mission....in light of the current economy."
"Right now, the biggest gig we have is to provide the music for the upcoming Jim Ed Parfrey's Monster Truck Pull and Ribfest at the Sarasota Fairgrounds next month," said Toulmin. "We've got a couple kids' birthday parties scheduled on Longboat Key, but with Aerosmith canceling their concert run, Joe Perry's been killing us by undercutting our prices."
"Personally, I think this town is going to hell in a handbasket," said one disgruntled clarinetist, privately. "I mean, Sarasota used to mean money and class, albeit other people's money, of course. It takes a lot of class to get people to willingly give you their money while you look them in the eye and smile at them. Those are the kind of people who supported the arts in this community. Class."
"But now, these former patrons are either in jail, on the lam, waiting for the expose of their scam to appear in the Herald-Tribune, have gone bust or are too busy trying to figure out their next get-rich-quick scheme. All of their disposable income is now going for attorney fees, not the arts."
The recent spate of anti-culture sweeping the city has had a chilling effect on other arts venues, as well. The Sarasota Reading Festival has been scrapped and replaced by a comic book convention," blamed, in part, by the arrival of Ikea to the Tampa area, as the furniture mecca only prints assembly directions in pencil drawings, instead of words. Said one wag, "Reading is no longer 'fundamental,' it's obsolete and old-fashioned."
Arts Day in downtown Sarasota, long a confluence of many forms of artistic endeavor, is to be replaced by what the promoter is calling "(F)Arts Day." Explained Ednalee Harklestein, spokeswoman for Chock Full O' Beans Productions, "We are recruiting teams sponsored by area restaurants like El Adobe, Mi Pueblo, Wings N' Weenies, etc., who will use flatulence to express themselves artistically by "tooting" or "burping" a rendition of a classical music composition. We will have categories by age, of course, but expect the overwhelming majority of entrants to be in the 80 and older group."
Toulmin said that this year's re-tooled Sarasota Music Festival will occur on only one Thursday afternoon, instead of the traditional three weeks in June, and will take place at Five Points featuring Willie "The Percussionist of Pilsner" Rafshoon. "I actually don't know how long his performance will last," said Toulmin. "I understand he only knows this one selection....."