Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Herald edit garners praise, heads to NEA

Editorial Page Editor Chris Wille opined today on Realize Bradenton's waiting-list-only luncheon this week, where 180 civic leaders, activists and students gathered to talk about 'what's working' and 'what's next' for Bradenton's cultural success.

The group, as Chris notes, was diverse in both age and ethnicity, reflecting the ongoing, deep community engagement in Bradenton’s future. I think it was one of the best cross-sections of Bradenton's community leaders that I've seen gathered in a long time.

The brainstorming session was sponsored by the Knight Foundation, one of the key reasons Realize Bradenton even exists. (Here is a sampling of Grant Jefferies' photos from the luncheon.) From the years when Knight Ridder owned the Bradenton Herald through now, the Knight Foundation has considered Bradenton one of its key communities.

Dennis Scholl, vice president of the arts for the foundation, was the luncheon's keynote speaker. And he threw down the gauntlet for Bradenton to ramp up its cultural efforts. We should be known across the country for our collaborative efforts, he told all of us.

Well, it looks like he might really help us get there. Johnette Isham, Realize Bradenton's executive director, sent Scholl a link to the Herald's editorial. His response was packed with praise for the coverage, and for Bradenton's effort.

"Wow, they really got it," he wrote Isham. "I’ve sent this to the chair of the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and the head of grantmakers in the arts..."

We predict: They are going to love this community.

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