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$1 million Keating match to SMOA met in six weeks
By Susan Rife , Herald-Tribune  |  Thursday, March 20, 2014 

It was thrilling enough for Wendy Surkis when Elaine Keating, a longtime supporter of the Sarasota Museum of Art, offered a million dollars in matching funds to get the museum project closer to its $22 million goal.

That was on Jan. 23. Within three days, more than $300,000 had been pledged.

And within six weeks, the million-dollar match had been met. New donations to the project now have topped $1.3 million.

As of Thursday afternoon, the balance stood at $19,545,629 and 89 cents, said Surkis, SMOA's president, who keeps the figure in her head, to the penny.

"Elaine's gift really was a definite added inspiration for people to step forward and donate at many different levels," said Surkis. "It was very helpful and at a propitious moment. She wanted to inspire the community and it really did that."

Surkis and SMOA's parent organization, the Ringling College of Art and Design, have set the end of this fiscal year — May 31 — as the target to raise the last $2.45 million.

"We're still aiming for that and I am still optimistic toward the community and the manner in which it's been stepping forward," said Surkis. "There's an excitement that is going on now."

The $22 million goal includes $14 million to renovate the former Sarasota High School building facing U.S. 41 south of downtown, and an $8 million endowment.

Keating's million-dollar match is her second major gift to the museum; when fund-raising began in earnest in 2007, Keating gave $1 million. She is a founding member of the SMOA board.

"Our area needs a world-class venue for contemporary art," Keating said in a statement released by the Ringling College. "I am very excited by what SMOA will accomplish in this building. Waiting for work to start has been like waiting for a new baby to be born."

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Elaine Keating Creates ‘Million Dollar Match’ to Drive Completion of Funding for Ringling College’s Sarasota Museum of Art 

Elaine Keating, a Trustee of the Ringling College of Art and Design since 1991 and founding Sarasota Museum of Art Board Member, has pledged $1 million to match new contributions to finalize funding for Ringling College’s Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA) in the historic Sarasota High School building.

Sarasota, FL – Jan. 24, 2014 – Ringling College of Art and Design president Dr. Larry R. Thompson and Wendy G. Surkis, president of the Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA, a division of Ringling College, announced that Ringling College trustee and SMOA board member Elaine Keating has pledged one million dollars to match new contributions to the Sarasota Museum of Art to help propel it to its completion in a ‘Million Dollar Match’ program. 

In the ‘Million Dollar Match’ program every donor dollar given will be matched up to one million dollars by Elaine Keating’s gift. “Our community needs a world-class venue for contemporary art,” said Mrs. Keating. “I am very excited by the Sarasota Museum of Art, what will take place in that building and I am extremely motivated to have it finished. The campaign is already 80 percent funded – if we close the funding out by May we can get started remodeling the building. It’s been like waiting for a new baby to be born – the final success after so much effort and expectancy. I wish it had only taken nine months, but at this point we are so close I pledged this ‘Million Dollar Match’ to unite our community in finishing the campaign.” 

“Elaine has been an exemplary supporter of Ringling College and instrumental in driving our innovation and growth over the past two decades,” said Dr. Thompson. “Her ‘Million Dollar Match’ pledge underlines the depth of her commitment to the creation of a contemporary art museum in Sarasota like no other in the world. We are awed and inspired with Elaine’s drive to complete the funding and encourage arts supporters and believers in Sarasota’s future as a creative nexus to join with her in giving to make SMOA a reality.” 

According to SMOA president Wendy Surkis, “Elaine is one of the founding SMOA members and has been unwavering in her enthusiasm and commitment to establishing a contemporary art museum in Sarasota. Her confidence in the great value SMOA will bring to children and adults is evidenced by her original seven-figure gift to get the funding campaign started. Now she is showing her continued generosity and motivation by stepping forward with this magnificent ‘Million Dollar Match’ so we can complete the fundraising and move on to renovation. I love her for that and am eternally grateful.” 

Mrs. Keating concluded, “The people that come to Sarasota could live anywhere in the world, but we chose Sarasota. It’s the culture that brings us here. The Sarasota Museum of Art is the missing link in our community for being the center for the arts that we are. I was an artist as a youngster and an art major in college. I went into business but have always had a preference for the visual arts. Ringling College is a pioneer in educating contemporary visual artists. This museum is a way for Ringling to connect even more with the Sarasota community. After all, the College may not have a football team or field, but the renovated Sarasota High School will be our football field highlighting contemporary and modern art. We are so close and my intention for this gift is to help finish the campaign and get our team on the field. It gives me great joy to be at a point in life to be able to do this - all our people benefit from it.” 

As Sarasota’s first art museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SMOA interweaves exhibitions, educational programs and community outreach initiatives to engage a diverse audience and serve as a stimulating hub for creative discovery. When fully funded, Ringling College and SMOA will transform the former Sarasota High School building into nearly 60,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 110-seat, multi-purpose auditorium, sculpture court, indoor/outdoor café, classrooms and studios providing education programs for adults and children, and meeting spaces. 

SMOA has already been engaging and educating the community through the ARTmuse program. Lisa Hoke, the current artist in the SMOA 2014 ARTmuse program, began working on her installation on January 15 and will work through February 4. Using massive quantities of everyday consumer materials, Lisa is creating one of her color-saturated installations with the assistance of volunteers from our community, akin to the work SMOA is doing to re-purpose the location into a dynamic arts destination for contemporary visual art. 

The 2013 ARTmuse ‘Stickworks’ project with artist Patrick Dougherty exemplified the power of art to engage residents and visitors, with hundreds of volunteers helping Patrick weave his work, thousands visiting and walking through his creation and millions seeing ‘Stickworks’ as they pass in their vehicles on US 41. 

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To participate in the ‘Million Dollar Match’ program for the Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA, please call Wendy G. Surkis at 941-309-7662 or email smoa@ringling.edu.

To help support SMOA and the Million Dollar Match, click here to get started.