When the Manatee County Tourist Development Council voted Dec. 19, 2018, to make a $100,000 budget recommendation to the county to help fund a concert series in conjunction with two nonprofit venues, the lineup was just coming together.
The first two shows at the Center of Anna Maria Island sold out, and people are buzzing about the remaining concerts.
Rounding out the first Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau concerts are:
- March 8, Judy Collins at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Doors open 7 p.m. Tickets are $80-$125.
- March 21, BJ Thomas at the Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Doors open 6 p.m. Tickets are $35-$100.
- April 1, The Marshall-Tucker Band at the Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Doors open 6 p.m. Presale tickets are $50-$65.
Tickets are available at the Manatee Performing Arts Center box office 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, or by calling 941-748-5875.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit manateeperformingartscenter.com.
Jane Seymour paid a visit to Anna Maria Island Jan. 18 to show off her talents.
A collection of sculptures and paintings by the actress, artist, author and designer is on display through Feb. 9 at the Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, where Seymour attended a reception in her honor.
Seymour’s trip to Manatee County was part of a tourism promotion to benefit area nonprofits and businesses, including local workers, by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Studio and the Sandbar Restaurant hosted the art reception.
Her work also is offered for sale at the studio.
Seymour is just one highlight of a series of BACVB concerts and events designed to boost the economy on the heels of the hardships suffered during a red tide outbreak that started in August.
Seymour mingled with the crowd, posed for snapshots, discussed her art and demonstrated how to make her heart-healthy coleslaw recipe.
In a brief speech, Seymour outlined how, in her late 20s, she went through a “terrible divorce.”
She said her mother’s words always resounded, to open her heart and help someone else when life gets challenging. It would become the inspiration for Seymour’s popular Open Hearts collection of sculpture, jewelry, art and a foundation.
She said a friend led her to art as a way through her pain. “It became my healing,” Seymour told the crowd.
Seymour founded the Open Hearts Foundation 10 years ago and her signature swirling, connecting hearts became a symbol for people to turn adversity into opportunity. The foundation is committed to growing nonprofits with the philosophy of love finding its way into an open heart.
Seymour dedicated an Open Hearts sculpture, a collaboration of the BACVB and Realize Bradenton at Riverwalk in Bradenton earlier in the day.
“I want people to find joy in their lives,” Seymour told the island crowd. “In the end, only two things really matter: The love you have shared and the difference you have made.”
New Year’s Day proved to be the perfect time for a plunge.
With 73-degree weather and clear skies, more than 100 people rushed Jan. 1 into the Gulf of Mexico for Clancy’s 11th annual Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge at Seventh Street South and Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach.
The event began with a costume contest judged by the crowd.
Participants included Ron Stout, decked out as “Mr. Red Tide,” and a friend, Paul Devine, who wore a sea turtle blowup raft; Heather Horn, who was made up as a shamrock; and Bill Capobianco, who came as a unicorn that ate a monkey.
Outfitted as an Amish couple, Mark Gritz and Robert Nott walked away with the contest’s top prize.
At the beach, volunteers collected donations and sold event T-shirts and sand brushes.
After the plunge at noon, people returned to Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub, 6218 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, for an after-party with raffles, live music, food, beverages and awards.
Proceeds benefit Caring for Children Charities, the fundraising arm of the Sarasota-based nonprofit organization, Florida Winefest and Auction.
Since its inception in 1991, Florida Winefest has donated more than $8.5 million to children’s charities.
Clancy’s has helped raise $219,520 with its annual plunge since beginning in 2009.
The 2019 plunge raised at least $27,000, with pledges and checks still rolling in as of Jan. 3, according to Jan Crudele of Florida Winefest.
To pledge or make a donation, contact Crudele at 941-952-1109.
A new skate park is taking priority in Holmes Beach.
While people might assume surfing is the top outdoor sport on a coastal island, skateboarding holds a special place in island culture.
But boarders need a place to hone their skills.
“Going to the skate park was one place where I could just be myself,” Jack Coleman, 20, an Anna Maria Island lifelong resident and skateboarder, said Dec. 31, 2018.
Coleman, along with several other members of the island skateboarding community, has been working with Pivot Custom Skate Parks lead designer Tito Porrata and city engineer Lynn Burnett on an updated skate park along Marina Drive in the 5900 block.
The proposed park will be alongside the city’s public works compound between city field and Marina Drive.
“Just to see Poratta’s design over the last month is very heartwarming, because I love it,” Coleman said.
The original skate park, which was built in 2003 and closed in 2017 for repairs, will reopen in 2019.
The budget for the redo, approved by the commission in 2018, will be $150,000.
The commission also agreed Dec. 11, 2018, to an option to add a bowl — used for tricks and similar to an empty in-ground pool — if the community can raise $100,000 by the summer.
Porrata, a professional skater since 1984, helped design the skate park at Riverwalk, a park in downtown Bradenton.
“Most of the municipal parks in Florida, I’ve designed and managed the construction,” Porrata said. “I call myself a translator between our skate culture and life.”
He said a new skate park would draw people from around the state, as well as locals.
Porrata said the life span of the park would be about 15 years, but could extend beyond that time if it is well maintained.
He said the city plans to use shrubbery to create a safety barrier between Marina Drive and the skate park, as the city continues a redesign of city field, the park and recreational complex bordered by Marina and Flotilla drives and 59th Street.
Burnett said an arborist working on the redesign of city field will meet with her and Porrata to ensure the skate park fits the plans for the field.
“We want to make sure we do the right kind of plants and the right kind of trees and have it dense enough that it can catch any skateboards that might be flying the wrong way,” Burnett said. “That will be incorporated as part of our overall landscape and the architectural design elements of the park.”
“I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the design, Commission Chair Jim Kihm said upon seeing the rendering of plans for the park at the Dec. 11 commission meeting. “I think you’ve given us something that very well integrates with the rest of the area.”
Mayor Judy Titsworth agreed.
“To me, the skate park is recognizing our local youth,” Titsworth said in an interview Dec. 31.
“It is a given that our visitors will enjoy it as well, it is just really important to me that we remember our youth when designing our park amenities. This is still, in my opinion, one of the best places in the country to raise a family and a skate park complements our beach community perfectly.”
The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes to hit a high note in 2019.
The Bradenton Area Concert Series will begin the year with a Southern rock concert by a nationally known band.
The first concert, headlined by the Outlaws, is set for Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Center of Anna Maria Island. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the music will begin at 7:30 p.m. Reserve seats are $50.
Sponsored by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, four-five concerts are being planned to take place at the community center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, and the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.
The Outlaws, formed in 1972, have played Southern rock for more than 40 years and are best known for the 1975 hit “There Goes Another Love Song.”
BACVB executive director Elliott Falcione said the series would bolster tourism and boost the local economy while opening new sources of revenue for the venues, which will receive 100 percent of ticket and food sales from the concerts.
With up to $100,000 in funding and Rich Engler producing the series, Falcione said he has high hopes for the inaugural year.
Engler, the first inductee in the Pittsburgh Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was honored for promoting more than 6,000 concerts. He is the author of “Behind the Stage Door” and is celebrating his 50th year as a concert producer in 2019.
“Everyone’s in it together,” Falcione said about the concerts in an interview Dec. 26. “Everyone’s got a great role. We pledged to sponsor these events and we’re excited to put the sweat equity into it. We’re going to learn as we go and make sure that the first year is really exciting for the community and its visitors.”
“To have him down here, to be producing a show in March during his 50th year, will be totally awesome,” Falcione said of Engler.
Other artists signed for the series include Judy Collins, slated to perform at the MPAC March 8, and Phil Vassar, who will perform at the center on a to-be-determined date.
Collins is a singer who became prominent in the mid-1960s folk music revival in the United States and is best known for her renditions of “Both Sides Now,” “Send in the Clowns” and “Amazing Grace.”
Vassar is a country-rock singer and songwriter responsible for 10 No. 1 songs on the Billboard charts, 15 top-10 songs and 26 top-40 songs. He is known for his song “Just Another Day in Paradise.”
Falcione said he expected Engler to sign another artist for a performance at the center by mid-January.
The BACVB will balance the concert venues, with two-three at the center and two at the MPAC.
“Both facilities also are looking for title sponsors, so we hope that the private sector — the corporate market — joins this opportunity for the greater good of the center, the theater and the visitors,” Falcione said. “We’re not in this to make money, we’re in this to showcase a unique brand in the marketplace that keeps visitors coming in on a year-round basis.”
Falcione said most performances in the series would be “unplugged.”
“The community center is in a neighborhood and one thing we don’t want to do is compromise the characteristics of that neighborhood by bringing in entertainment,” Falcione said.
“So, we want that balance. We’re here to say we want entertainment that is more unplugged than plugged-in because we don’t want music bleeding into the neighborhoods and bothering somebody that doesn’t want to listen to music that night.”
The concerts are planned for an audience of 500-600 people, and Falcione hopes to create a sense of intimacy.
“Imagine being in the third row in the center and you’re literally maybe 10-12 feet from the artist,” Falcione said. “It doesn’t get more intimate than that. So residents and visitors will have an opportunity to get up close and personal with these artists … and that’s what is going to make it special. That’s what’s going to make it unique and make people continue to come back and want to experience more.”
People interested in concert tickets can visit the MPAC at manateeperformingartscenter.com or visit the box office. A service charge for the box office is added to the ticket price.
Construction of a new Anna Maria City Pier is a shared wish among city officials in 2019.
Work on the pier walkway and T-end will begin in January and end before Dec. 31.
“I hope that there are no storms, no delays and that everything goes as scheduled on the pier, so we can reach a successful completion close to the end of this new year,” Mayor Dan Murphy said in an interview Dec. 27.
“One of my highest priorities is getting that city pier opened back up ASAP,” Commissioner Dale Woodland said in an interview Dec. 26. “It’s not a benefit to me personally, but it’s probably one of the most popular places in the county. It’s a historic place, and I don’t know if it will be historic anymore, but I want to see it rebuilt as soon as possible.”
Commissioner Carol Carter, in an interview Dec. 26, said she hopes people are pleased with the city’s progress and the process for the new pier.
Beyond the pier, city officials discussed a variety of other hopes for 2019.
“My first wish for the new year is that we find a solution to red tide,” Murphy said. “And if we don’t find a solution to red tide, I hope that it just stays away from our door and doesn’t decide to visit Anna Maria again.”
Murphy also hopes for the completion of a stormwater plan to deal with hotspots with poor drainage.
“Drainage is critical to this island, and it’s one of those things that we just have to continually concentrate on and adjust to because hotspots change as we move along,” Murphy said.
Woodland wants commissioners to discuss establishing a public-private partnership like government officials have done in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
He said the city of Sandy Springs maintains a low tax rate by employing only eight people and “farming out” work to the private sector through requests for proposals.
“I think it’s just too far outside the realm of the average individual to even understand public-private partnerships and how they work, but that’s not going to keep me from doing everything I can to at least get a discussion.”
Woodland also wants the city to livestream public meetings, making them more accessible, and for people viewing the streams to have the ability to interact with commissioners as if they were in the audience.
“I see nothing but benefits from that, as long as you are interested with hearing from the public, which I am,” Woodland said. “I think that’s important.”
“The biggest thing that I’d love for the new year as a wish is that the city keeps home rule,” Commissioner Amy Tripp said in an interview Dec. 26.
She also hopes the city will expand the multiuse path. The first segment, stretching from Archer Way to Willow Avenue, was completed in October 2018.
Tripp was the first on the commission to advocate for the path and cut the ribbon at the opening.
“I wish that we would have more people who come to love our island and want to live here as permanent residents,” Commissioner Carol Carter said of her wishes.
Carter is a leader of the nonprofit AMI Community Development Fund and the Anna Maria Island: Home Sweet Home initiative focused on increasing residency and annual rental opportunities.
“We are looking to acquire, by gift or some group of benefactors to purchase, a historic bungalow property on the island that would be 50-years-old or older,” Carter said.
She continued, “We, as a nonprofit organization, would manage that as an annual rental because the annual rentals have decreased on the island as people that own properties want to rent them out want them as vacation rentals, because, of course, vacations rentals are much more lucrative.”
Commissioner Doug Copeland said he does not make resolutions or new year wishes.
Commissioner Brian Seymour did not comment by The Islander’s deadline.