John and Mary Ann Meyer

When you ask John and Mary Ann Meyer about their involvement with Ringling College of Art and Design and the Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA), they answer in unison, “We feel lucky!”

John and Mary Ann learned about SMOA and the idea to create a modern and contemporary art museum in Sarasota from their friend Linda Dickinson and SMOA president Wendy Surkis. As avid contemporary art collectors, they embraced the concept from the beginning. 

“We believe SMOA will be great for the community,” says John. Mary Ann adds, “We appreciate the multi-purpose aspect of SMOA; there will be learning about art, appreciating art and creating art all happening at the same time in the same place. And saving an historic Sarasota building is important.”

John is a member of the SMOA board and together he and Mary Ann have worked tirelessly to help raise the funds necessary to create the museum. 

As generous early donors, they set an example for others to follow. Their initial $100,000 gift was designated toward the SMOA endowment. “We want SMOA to be ready to have programming once the building is completed,” says Mary Ann. “That’s why we gave to the endowment and that’s why the SMOA board’s fundraising goals include raising funds for a sufficient endowment.”

Over the years, John and Mary Ann’s enthusiasm and commitment to SMOA and Ringling has continued to grow. They made an additional investment in SMOA, bringing their total giving to $250,000. For their generosity, the building’s elevator will be named in their honor.

The Meyers have been as generous with their time as with their financial support. They have spent countless hours as SMOA volunteers helping with events and outreach. Last year, they extended their generosity by agreeing to serve as co-chairs of Ringling College’s premier scholarship fundraising event, “An Evening at the Avant-Garde.” Through their efforts and leadership, more than 400 people enjoyed a spectacular night on the Ringling campus and $125,000 was raised for student scholarships. 

Participating in the selection of student Curtis Anderson (Advertising Design ’12) as the 2011 Avant-Garde Endowed Scholarship recipient and meeting the incredible students who applied for the award was a highlight of their experience as event chairs. The scholarship was created by Ringling trustee Susan Palmer from the proceeds of Avant-Garde 2008. It is awarded each year to a student who has given extraordinary service to Ringling College.

According to John and Mary Ann, “The most satisfying thing about our relationship with SMOA and Ringling has been seeing the progress toward fully realizing the museum. Our relationships with the members of the SMOA board and all of the people at Ringling have been wonderful. We are lucky to have Ringling College in our community.”

Ringling president, Dr. Larry R. Thompson, is just as thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with John and Mary Ann Meyer. “We are very fortunate to have John and Mary Ann Meyer as members of the Ringling College/SMOA community,” he says.


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