Description: This article is about Focus Manatee. It primarily tells us that Manatee is continuing series of programs that reach out into all aspects of life. All the results of theses programs are attributed to the cooperation of leaders and the local people.
My name is Don Schroder. Welcome to Focus Manatee. Focus Manatee is a continuing series of programs that reach out into all aspects of life in our county.
Focus Manatee’s goal is not only to speak with individuals or groups who perform leadership roles within the county, but also to bring to our conversational table to those who are affected by the decisions that are or will be made by a vast assortment of leadership entities within the county.
So let’s get started. More than 60 years ago, the manatee players were a roving band of performers and volunteers working with meager budgets. Today the manatees players have evolved from those humble beginnings into a nationally recognized and awarded ensemble that is enriching lives locally and regionally through the art and education of live entertainment.
Today’s panel consists of five individuals who have been intimately involved with the manatee players over the years, but most importantly are actively associated with the players current capital campaign to raise 1.2 million dollars necessary to open the new Performing Arts Center by March 2013 .
With that being said, please allow me to introduce today’s guest. First is the Honorable Wayne Poston mayor of the city of Breda. The one sitting next to him is DR.Anthony Pezzo, a president of the manatee players Board of Directors .
My third guest is Brenda Rogers,a president of the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton. Alongside of her is Jack Hawkins, chairman of the board of the Braden and Kiwanis Foundation.
Both those entities within combination have pledged two hundred and fifty thousand dollars toward the completion of the new manatee players facility on the riverfront,my fifth guest is Janine , an executive director of the manatee players who is among all her other duties, responsible for raising the remaining 1.2 million dollars needed to open the players new fin.
You have it open by March 2013. Welcome all and thank you for being taking the time to being on focus manatee .
My first guest and my first question goes to the mirror. What the future is and how important manatee players are for York viewpoint of the riverfront. City’s been interested in this and I’ve been particularly interested in it.
Because it’s an economic development issue for us. A lot of people think the players is an artistic achievement, but the first thing is that people are from out of town, they are looking at Bradenton and looking to move here.
The first thing they ask us is what the status of the arts and culture is in your community.They concerned about their employees and concerned about what they want to get involved in.
So for us it’s not an artistic endeavors an economic development issue.We’re glad that we’re moving forward, it has taken a long time and Janina’s worked very hard in getting this thing where it is. So we have great partners that are sitting around the table here making this happen.
DR.Anthony Pezzo , as president, how do you see this evolving? Thank You Don,for having me first and foremost, this is an issue, I agree with the mayor, this is critical for the development of the downtown, hopefully the manatee players who will only Rove one more time to the downtown new facility from the pre-existing facility which is now 65 years old.
But bringing in people to the arts and culture, we’re educating youth. We’re doing award-winning shows. When people do call up and they consider to relocate, in my medical practice, we recruit new doctors all the time when we meet other doctors who have been recruited for other practices.
The first question they ask is that I’m here, this is a beautiful place, what do I do when I’m not working. So I have to fall upon the mayor’s idea. That is a very good thing. Developing that waterfront is going to make Bradenton a very good destination for many people.
Brenda ,you had indicated in Jack have gotten together. Two weeks ago, you presented a check to the manatee players for 250 thousand dollars. How did you go about that? I know you have two entities in one club. So could you explain that?
The easy way to explain that Breynton foundation holds the charitable funds that we give to our community. The Kiwanis Club Rainton Foundation, RF club board of directors authorizes those expenditures.
We do work together to determine what our goals are and what amounts will be given, those kinds of considerations with this 250,000. We were excited about the investment in our community for the future.
We saw it as something that could build in the economic area. But we were also very interested in the educational youth components of the theatre experience.That cinched our desire to be part of.
Janine, Brenda said, you have a component for the youth within the manatee players. Is that correct? Yes. Can you explain that? Education for the manatee players is a year-round endeavor.
Within our community, a lot of people have the misconception that all we do is to put on main stage, a big gray quality musical performances. But it’s the desire of the board of directors and the vision in tandem with the staff to not only educate young people, but also to be able to sing and dance, more importantly to provide them with skills that are lifelong skills so that they’re able to present themselves to a group of individuals and have the confidence that they need to stand up tall and be able to speak in a manner. They not only feel good about themselves, but also are able to present themselves in a quality way.
Now the manatee players moving forward ,a big portion of the grant we received from Kiwanis is enabling us not only to provide young people with that on stage skill, but also we’re moving towards, providing the community in the region at large what we call technical training skill sets, where individuals can learn the lighting design, scenic design and costume design.
Those magics happened backstage . So providing that to the community is very important to us. DR.Anthony Pezzo. When we discussed this at the board level over the last couple of years since I’ve been involved the object of what Jeanine describing as a tea tap program.
It was to shore up the educational aspects of what we do at the manatee players, not just on a regular basis but also to the point of getting people ready for the workforce, where they’re receiving certification or a card ,where they can go out .
Basically get paid for what they love to do. What they’ve learned to do with us becomes a huge benefit to the community. We’re trying to put people into the workforce, we’re trying to educate and train people with viable skills.
Besides, the entertainment aspects and getting people comfortable speaking in front of audiences. We’ve had people grow up through the theater over the many years gone on to college, some have gone on to law school ,corporate jobs and so forth.
These are all people that are perfectly comfortable getting up in front of a group of people. Speaking presenting themselves makes us very proud of what we’re doing.
a has a program. There’s money coming from the foundation toward education and that’s a big component of Qantas, not only locally but internationally. Could you explain that and how that works?
I’d be glad to make the foundation about Kiwanis, our motto is to put it concisely as serving the children of the world. So Kiwanis has been about children since day one and certainly since the club has been around for almost 100 years.
So the board of trustees of the foundation consists primarily of members of the club, two separate organizations. We take our cue from the club. We’re supporting organization for the things that the club wants to do.
We are stewards of the money. We’ve been over the years. We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve had good leadership on the board of trustees.
So we provide the funding for projects. The club says this is a neat idea. Let’s do this thing. So the idea of the players doing something with the players excited the foundation. But it would take our cue from the club.
Those are the workers on the ground. Those are the ones who were involved in community. Because we only have ten trustees. We have 80 or 90 or 100 and some old members of the club.
So we provide money ,we provide guidance in that regard, I wouldn’t say we do what the club requests us to do. We take a lot of pride in the leadership that the club has, so we do follow their cute.
I have been a member Brandon Kiwanis since nineteen seventy-four. There’s no way to explain how much the Kiwanis Club has done for this community. The size of the club and the active participation we’ve had in leadership in this community, there’s no way to explain how much they have done.
This community wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is without. I mean it wouldn’t be. They’ve been smart, they’ve been frugal, they have done all the things that they used to. Club’s foundation and the money that comes out of Britain is bigger than the most charitable giving in, almost any community. It’s bigger than the United Way.
Is it proper to ask the question about how much is in the foundation. I think it is proper. The foundation has been around since 1994, the club has been around since 1920. This year, I think we’re having her 90th anniversary. And we started small.
Everyone on this panel of knows, the leaders of Kiwanis club had the foresight to acquire the Briton and Trailer park. The club ran that for many years and that was sold in 1998.
I can tell you for about over 8 million dollars we had. But now we have over 10 million dollars in our foundation. Over the last 15 years, the foundation under the tutelage of the club, we’ve given back to this community more than 5 million dollars to scholarships, to kids, to youth and we’ve still been able to grow it.
This type of project excites the foundation. Because it’s not about putting on plays. I mean that’s a byproduct. But from our standpoint, it’s investing in a facility. That’s going to provide educational opportunities for kid. Schools can do the things that they used to be able to do.
An economic catalyst, that’s certainly a nice by-product. So we’re delighted to be a small part of all the work that these folks have raised 14 million dollars.
We do have a history of this type of investment that Jack mentioned the Breynton Trailer Park. The club went into that area, because the city asks club to provide a place for tourists to come and be in the Bradenton Area.
Recently I found a postcard on the back of it ,it is close to churches schools, beaches, every shopping and everything. I have to say that nucleus in the center of Bradenton is still all those things.
But we’ve also contributed to the start up for the Manta convention center. We have been part of the Boys and Girls Clubs, the ninth Street Center and Desoto Center. Those were Kiwanis Club projects, the Girl Scout house, the renovation at the the 4-h center.
All those kinds of things we’ve done historically make our place a better place, for families to raise their children, for people to live and to love what we offer. That’s part of our goal, to make Bradenton and Manatee County a better place.
And I find the same thing as Realtor people come in, it’s not the lifestyle they’re looking for. When you talk about the players, they need more beaches, a homo and a house over their head.
They need other things and they’re looking at the school district. I think great things are happening with advantage at the school district.But going back to the manatee players, what do you foresee in the future, you’ve got the new building, you’re starting doctor, you’re starting to get this whole group. It’s spreading out into it.
I’d like to get the mirrors comments you have Artesian working forward. You have a downtown, you have a fourteenth Street group, this is all part of that same environment. You’re working for the hospital expansion that’s been going on. So how does all of this play together?
I want to come back to you about what programs are going on. A few months back, John Howard approached me with regards. John Howard Howard is as a consultant to the Mantini Foundation, former headmasters St. Stephen’s.
I know John for 23 years. I’m in town, he educated both of my children as the headmaster of that facility. John’s an interesting guy.
He approached me one day back in May .He asked Janine, would you think I could talk to DR.Anthony Pezzo for a few minutes? He could have called me, I would certainly talk to him. But he made an appointment at the office to come and talk.
The girl said, you know John Howard method. I know John. So he came by to talk to me for 15 minutes and a half hours later. We caught up on what his kids are doing, how the school is doing, how the house is doing.
We need to finish your theater. That was the bottom line of the discussion and the Community Foundation’s willing to help. I think there are other people in the community willing to help .
Subsequently this evolved into a task force that was assembled which incorporated the folks at Kiwanis The DDA, the mayor, a few people from my board Janine, a couple of people are very strong supporters of the theater in our community. That task force started meeting after that initial meeting.
In May, we’ve met several times, but it was an interesting thing, we felt like we were dealing with a situation where you’re looking at a poker game. Everybody’s waiting to throw the last card.
We felt like we had some momentum that people would jump in and get going. The Community Foundation and the Kiwanis people have been a tremendous catalyst. Add that to the fact, we’re developing the waterfront which goes between the hospital and all the way downtown.
Seeing a lot of positive things all happening at the same time, people are getting excited. That’s the best thing in the world. That could have happened for the Manatee players, besides, renowned plays and performances.
We’ve been a big part of the community for many years .I think people are seeing the end of the tunnel. They’re seeing, this is going to happen. This is going to open. This is going to be huge and it makes it a lot easier for us to finish what we have started.
Janine, talk about the end of the tunnel, you’re inquiring 1.2 million dollars. Now is there a program, is there a website where do people go if they want to contribute toward this program?
The easiest thing is the comfort of their home and their computer. You can go to manatee players.com. There is a donate Now button. We provide within not only the theater, but also our satellite office which is in a construction trailer outside.
The new facility opportunities for people come in when they are even willing to sit down with people and discuss how they can invest in the project. Not only this year, but they want to do it on a term basis for two three four years.
There’s something for everybody to make a difference from $25 and above. It’s important to us, as I raise my children in the community. We want to provide opportunities for everyone and anyone to get on board and feel like they’re investing in their quality of life.
Mayor, the city is invested obviously and it’s better through the land and so forth. The land is on account of deed, is that correct?
I’m going to explain this. We only have a sortie mat .So it is not an easy fix. The city originally is the print dollar-a-year, the current site. Then Jadide says, why’d you do that? I said that we needed the money. That’s the way we did it.
And now this was a pay, essentially a partnership or collaboration to get the current site and get it where it is. We appreciate the city recognized the Manatee Players over history especially in the last 20 years.
It was no longer a little theater. We’re not providing shows four months out of the year. We’re using the facility 12 months out of the year. We’re bringing over 40,000 people on a yearly basis within our concrete.
Currently the city provided us an opportunity to be able to build on a secondary site. So we didn’t have to demo. The current facility, therefore again be wandering throughout the community.
We don’t know a period of time that it would have taken, so it allowed us to build up our season subscriptions. During construction we are on a consistent yearly basis, we have been breaking our records.
We currently have over 2,900 season subscribers. It’s wonderful and thanks to the city. They didn’t make us move out and build on our current site they provided us with a second one. We appreciate that very much.
We understood the importance of what the theatre was doing. I’ll be perfectly one of the things that we had planned. It didn’t turn out as well as they’d like. Because when we were going to do in the collaboration with the school board.
Dr and I worked on this closely, where the players was going to be part of the school system. That’s what we were going to do. We were going to be able to train kid, to have a developmental program in the arts and the economy. They struck everything out.
Right, the school board is going to be a partner, but the money wasn’t there. Then we had to be nimble enough to figure out how to get this to happen in a different kind of way. That’s what we have done.
Does this fit into going back to your concept of the whole area, the Downtown Development and the Artesian that is having you for.
The other thing, it’s all interconnected correctly. I thought we had a lot of things when I first came in as mayor. I came in and had a bucket list which is the revitalization bucket list of what I wanted to do.
I may have 27 items on that bucket list and I’m about three away from finishing. Then I’m not going to tell you what I am going to start. But this was one piece of that.
My job is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I know all the pieces that I want, but I don’t know what order I’m going to get him in.
So as we would get something done, we would plug that piece. We did the GD rogers on Mentary school. We got to do Mckechnie field which is the same, the Hope 6 project. We had people and hollered that started about.
Then it moved over the village of the arts ,we got that in Easton, which been named one of the top ten arts from the communities in the country. So that happened. That Old Main Street started to work and the St. Patrick’s Day for Old Main Street was too short for four block.
It was an amazing thing. But it goes to these down to the waterfront what we want to have happen,some housing, the players we need and some commercial lived in. That’s coming.
We’re a part of the Benderson program and the rowing facility. That’s going to be there. We’re going to do a skateboard park down there. That’s not going to look like a piece of concrete, it’s going to be an art form.
We think that we will bring skating events from all over the country. So the players are part of all of that fabric. We’re trying to fill this jigsaw puzzle. When we can finish would be a great thing.
If you don’t mind, how does the plan for the new players facility opened in March of 2013. How does that dovetail in with what’s going on downtown in terms of that scheduled.
We’re going to get that done this year. We’re moving very quickly. I have every single permit we need usually to get that particularly from VAP and even an F Top permanent. At least, we’re going to be moving forward quickly on that project now. Can you explain the scope of that project.
It’s Costa. When did we get finished, the riverfront will go from 53 West Buckaroo Boulevard all the way down to mental hospital around the curve. It may be the longest linear part of the state.
Let me get finished with that, it will go over to seventh street East, that’s the part of a development we’re going to see before too long. Going down the other side, reaction isn’t working. Because the asset that the bridge is always forgotten by us.
How important that river can be to us economically and we’re starting to use that in a way. Now that makes sense and my goal was not to give it away to all private folks.
We want people to be able to use that and live here. A lifestyle issue is important to me. I always thought that we like to have tourists, we’d like to have the folks on down.
But don’t forget the people that are here and built this community. It’s like you got a new puppy, you forget about the old dog that’s been so good to you for so long. So we try not to take that for granted Brendan.
Education is a big component of what they’re doing, talking about the scholarships that Koalas is doing and how to get that dovetails into the end of this program by you, to have continuing education scholarships for students, could you tell by background a little bit?
Kiwanis club has a history of college scholarships for Manatee county high school graduates. If we went back, the last five or six years, we’ve probably invested a close to a million dollars. It’s a great job. we have had a significant scholarship program. It has sent a lot of Manatee County students to colleges of their choice. It’s a very rewarding program.
I’ve had that the privilege of being the scholarship chairman for several years. I get to know the students, sometimes I feel like I’m the den mother or you know something along that line, because they come to you, they share their Joy, they share their sorrows, they share their challenges.
You do get to know some of the students very well. I’m always very proud, whenever they’ll send me graduation announcements and invitations to the party after any of those kinds of things and most of the time they will see your Gainesville or Miami or hit somewhere else.
We have a lot of students that get USF and state college of Florida. So we feel that we’re we’re investing in our community in that way, as well as some of these more bricks and mortar kinds of programs that we do.
Dr, you have a task force if I am correct, can you talk about the task force. Maybe Janine is also involved in this question. The task force is the building arm but not the educational arm or it is a combination.
The arm is helping us to get it done. This is a group of good organizations, good people, good standing in the community who all stepped forward with the idea. We believe in your project and we feel that Bradenton needs to get this finished up and run.
So it enhances what the players are provided for this community for many years. So the educational end of it, is that Kiwanis is going to fund some of that, some of their money is going towards classrooms, expanding our education programs which ties into what they’ve done with children. So that end of it is separate.
But the real issue of the task force is, they have a strong feeling that Bradenton needs to have this in the community. It’s going to be a great thing we can expand on our programming. We don’t have to limit to eight main stage productions.
The other thing is tying back to children. About forty two percent of our main stage actors are under 18. People don’t realize. We have tremendous talent in the community, we have tremendous amount of people who want to be involved.
We have tremendous volunteers. The task force was OK,what we can do to get you over that last big bump in the road so that we can see this place open operating and the coal community can enjoy it.
Owning and operating, I understand that Miss Saigon is going to open production. That is our goal. It’s very important that the task force helped us as an organization from the Manatee player’s perspective, make sure that we were branding ourselves correctly.
The misconception was that we were doing another small theater. What we are building downtown is an amenity for the region. It is a performing arts center.
On Friday evenings, you can come in and see a film or a series of musicals, poetry, a jazz concert. On a Monday morning, you may be there with your corporation hearing a motivational speaker and having lunch in a dining area.
It is truly going to be a performing arts center, a home to the manatee players, but to have a cultural outreach, for the community, many of our smaller theatrical troupes and maybe recital homes will have a place downtown Bradenton.
I’m excited because we will be able to bring some of the new aspects of entertainment like film. Some of our historic programming for many years, we did small operettas and that will be able to come back to town, partnering with the library foundation to be able to bring in different speakers.
It is an opportunity for Manatee county to be able to come to downtown Bradenton, for all of their needs, not just an entertainment, but educational and civic as well .
That’s a good way to close its program out, we’re about out of town. Before I say, thank to everybody. I’d like you to summarize your feeling, about the future of the relative players, the way you contributed and what your goals and personal goals are. How this whole thing is coming together to make a better Manatee for the future of our community.
I and Janine know this. I’ve not been to a theater person all my life and I hadn’t been excited about the play. I’ve been to shows off and for 30 years, I’ve been back as an adult.
This has excited me, and it’s got me excited about the tour, but it’s all of the other things that Janine talked about. From the Kiwanis foundation standpoint, where we like to do something that makes an impact on the community. We are happy to have done something that has a big impact on the community.
By personal, I saw my first performance as an elementary school student on a field trip to the Manatee Players. I have enjoyed the musicals, especially the musicals throughout my life. We’re proud to be part of this investment in our community and in the future and look forward to that day in March when those doors are open.
I got excited about this mainly as an adult, I grew up in New York, my folks dragged me, kicking and screaming to plays in Manhattan all the time some of which I find out. I talked to my kids. I got more interested when my children started to get involved in theater.
First, my son, he migrated to film and television, the daughter stuck with it. I think her performance will be our 20th performance coming up in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers which opens in May.
I started to realize what this did for the community, what it did for the children. How much it goes into putting on a main stage production. I’m not a performer. I’m happy to help. I’m happy to get them to build a theater. I’m happy to do whatever I can to make it work. Because it’s such a tremendous opportunity for our kids. For our community, it’s hard not to get excited about it.
Thank you. This is a dream coming to fruition and this is going to be a community gathering place. It’s not going to be a single element site. So that’s what I’m excited about. So what I would like to encourage everybody to do, let me put this piece of the jigsaw puzzle together if you’ll send your knee and put some money for this 1.2 million we need.
It’s a great move toward you, thanks Don for giving us the opportunity to discuss more about the Manatee Players with the community. With last words, all I can say is if there are any questions that anyone has, any hesitation on what we’re doing, feel comfortable enough to call the Manatee Players, because we do want to provide the community every opportunity to gather downtown in any arena and feel good about the quality of life in Manatee County. That phone number is 941 749 1111.
Thank you to all the pond. Janine, wisdom executive director of the manatee players. The Honorable Wayne Poston, mayor of Bradenton. Dr. Pizzo, the president of the Manatee Players. Brendan Rodger, the president of Kiwanis and Jack Hawkins, president of the Kiwanis Foundation. Thank you all very much and thank you for watching our program this year. We’re out of time. Be back at the next time.