To mark anniversary, celebrations are set for February and March:
“Romance on the Riviera”
With soprano Joy Leitner and tenor Robert Lischetti
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in a special performance
This not-for-profit, educational organization offers more than 175 non-credit courses and programs to adults.
(Sarasota-Manatee) For 35 years, area visitors and residents have cultivated their passion for learning at the Longboat Key Education Center. The Center offers a rich range of programs, including lecture series, performing arts series, film festivals, book clubs, concerts, theatrical performances, and more. It’s open from mid-October to mid-April and features fall, winter and spring terms.
These programs are presented by some of the region’s most accomplished academics, entrepreneurs, inventors, and authors from nearly every field of interest.
“We tap the extraordinary expertise of the residents who live in the area,” says Susan Goldfarb, the center’s executive director. “We’re surrounded by world-class talent and many choose to share their knowledge to enrich the lives of our students.”
Goldfarb has led the organization for the last 25 years, growing it to 175 classes taught by more than 135 teachers, performers, and lecturers. More than 500 members support the organization, and that support has never been more essential than during the yearlong pandemic.
“We had to move quickly, and we did,” says Goldfarb. “We now offer 95 percent of our classes online. It was an enormous and expensive endeavor, but we made it happen with the support of our membership and funding from the CARES Act and other pandemic-related funding. Our devoted students count on us every year—and they were always our first priority. While we miss the in-person camaraderie—and we used to see 500 students day before the pandemic—we don’t let that discourage us. We know these restrictions are only temporary, and still plan to celebrate our 35th anniversary in high style!”
Although the pandemic significantly impacted The Center’s program delivery, it didn’t diminish the longstanding quality of its courses and events. Its 2021 winter lecture series still features intellectually compelling explorations of politics, sociological phenomenon, history, culture, religion, and philosophy. Winter offerings include “The 2020s — The Most Disruptive Decade in History,” “Presidential Abuse of Power is Not New,” “Intelligence and the Presidency,” and “Mark Twain’s Pandemics and Politics.” Explorations into the human condition include “How We Think: Exploring the Mechanisms of the Mind,” the Biblical Experience of Sickness and Healing,” and “What Makes Us Human?”
“Friday at 5,” “In the Spotlight,” and “Theatre Showcase,” the Center’s popular performing arts series, showcases intimate performances by regionally based musicians, actors, playwrights, and entertainers, including Katherine Michelle Tanner (“Shakespeare’s Lovers” on February 5); Thomas Carabasi (“Samba Meets Jazz” on February 19); and David Polansky (“Fifty+ Years of Broadway” on March 5).
In celebration of its 35th anniversary, the Center is presenting two special performances. “Romance on the Riviera,” on Friday, February 12, showcases soprano Joy Leitner and tenor Robert Lischetti performing some of the world’s most romantic music by Puccini, Faure, Debussy, Verdi, and other great composers. The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) will present a custom performance written and directed by WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs on Friday, March 12. Tickets per event range from $20 for members and $30 for non-members. These programs will be offered both via Zoom and in-person with limited attendance and strict adherence to pandemic protocol. Register online at www.lbkeducationcenter.org; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call (941) 383-8811.
The Center’s winter courses continue through April and program registration is ongoing.
The Longboat Key Education Center, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Suite 212 at The Centre Shops in Longboat Key. For more information, visit www.lbkeducationcenter.org or call 941-383-8811.
History of the Longboat Key Education Center: The importance of lifelong mental engagement led Laura and Frank Taubes to establish The Longboat Key Education Center in 1985. The Taubes were part-time residents of Longboat Key at the time.
According to Goldfarb, “Laura fervently believed that ongoing education keeps the mind active and the spirit young.” She adds that the couple bought and renovated the building that now houses The Longboat Observer. “The Taubes moved to the Centre Shops of Longboat Key in the early 1990s because it offered more square footage, parking and an elevator, which they wanted to provide for handicapped students.”
In 1986, Goldfarb began part-time work for The Center, and managed its marketing and public relations activities. After several years, she left to pursue full-time employment as PR and marketing director of the Sarasota Ballet and Michael Saunders & Company, continuing to refine her marketing expertise. In 1997, Laura Taubes approached Goldfarb with the proposal of appointing her executive director of the Center. “I loved The Center with the same passion that Laura and Frank had when they founded it,” says Goldfarb. “It’s been my distinct pleasure to steward and grow the organization in a way that I hope would make them proud.” Goldfarb was recently listed in the Marquis Who’s Who in America.
About The Longboat Key Education Center
The Longboat Key Education Center provides education and recreation to residents of and winter visitors to Longboat Key, and neighboring areas in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It offers more than 175 programs divided into three terms: Fall (Oct/Nov/Dec), Winter (Jan/Feb), and Spring (March/April). Classes meet once a week for two, four or eight weeks, depending on the course. There is also a lecture series and a performing arts series that can be attended on a one-time basis, Saturday workshops and guided day-long trips to points of interest throughout Southwest Florida (popular field trips and daytrips have been suspended for 2021 due to the pandemic) . The center is in operation from mid-October to mid-April. Its courses and other programs appeal to many diverse interests and range from yoga, Qigong, and bridge to opera, foreign affairs, film festivals and book clubs. All courses are non-credit, and there are no prerequisites for admission. For more information, visit www.lbkeducationcenter.org. Please note: Pandemic protocol applies to all in-person programs. Registrants will be provided information.