Season of Sculptures' uncertain future

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A longtime tradition in Sarasota may be in jeopardy. The group behind the "Season of Sculpture" says they are facing some financial problems.

The property along the Sarasota bayfront is known to be full of iconic sculptures from all over the world during the event, which organizers have been putting on every other fall since 1999.

"When you drive by, if you come to Sarasota this is one of the things you're going to see. And it really does demonstrate the importance of the arts to this community," says Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College and board member for the event.

"We know very clearly that 85% of the people who move to Sarasota come here because of the strength of the arts and cultural core. We're a very vibrant, strong emblem of that," says Susan McLeod, board chair of Season of Sculpture.

But since the recession, the volunteer structured non-profit has been struggling financially to make the event happen.

As a board member from the start, Thompson says with an uncertain future, something needs to change. "It’s had to now pare down. There's no staff, there's no office, there's no anything left because everything now has to go into the exhibition."

Although the sculptures are placed on city property, the city does not provide any funding for the art exhibit. It’s completely funded by sponsors and donations; on a $150,000 budget, the organization has to cover transportation, insurance, preparation of the site, and installation of the sculptures.

"It's time for us to reimagine us. It's time for us to get a grip on how much this city wants this to happen, how much security we can build for organizing and restructuring," says McLeod.

That's where Ringling College steps in. The college is working on a collaboratory project with Season of Sculpture to research and restructure the event, with the potential to partner with new Sarasota Museum of Art.

Season of Sculpture organizers hope to hold their next exhibition in November of 2015 along the Sarasota bayfront.