Dear Selby Gardens Members & Friends:
I am thrilled to be writing to you with great news to share during this summer season.
Over the last few weeks since the close of the much celebrated exhibition, “Warhol: Flowers in the Factory,” our team has been reviewing the year’s success and there is much to celebrate.
As the second annual exhibition in the Jean and Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series that features botanically-themed art and horticulture displays, I’m proud to announce that the Warhol show continued our streak of setting records. Over the course of its five-month run the immersive, multi-disciplinary exhibition once again set record-breaking attendance numbers along with growth in membership, retail sales and food service. More than 207,000 people have visited Selby Gardens since I wrote you at this time last year with more than 105,000 alone during the Warhol exhibition. Our membership continues to grow with more than 13,000 member households, and the exposure this show brought our bayfront oasis (USA Today, New York Times, Financial Times (UK) and many more!) was astounding.
But perhaps most exciting is the interest we have received from 10 other botanical gardens that would like to take our show on the road to destinations both in the United States and internationally! While there are details to work out on this front, I am very excited to see how our institution is being recognized as a leader and innovator in our field. I hope to share more with you soon about this intriguing opportunity.
Our continued success is due in large part to our exhibition supporters, including the series sponsors Jean Weidner Goldstein and the late Alfred Goldstein, along with presenting sponsors Amicus Foundation, Betsy and Doug Elder, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, and State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and of course our generous art patron Flora Major and all the sponsors.
Some of the most reassuring news I have relates to the ongoing, continued growth of our Living Museum operating model. Since transitioning to this series of exhibitions in 2015 the results are telling: overall earned revenues have increased by 59 percent! This comes from admissions (47%), membership (60%) and food service and rentals, which has more than doubled.
These staggering numbers provide the means for our institution to have an even greater impact in research, education and conservation. We continue to hold a zero balance on our line of credit, which was eliminated last year. In addition to shoring up our organization’s financial health, we have been able to invest in:
- Botanical research travels with Selby Gardens working in Belize, Peru, Cuba and Brazil this year alone
- Increased scientific professional staffing with Sally Chambers, Ph.D. and Shawn McCourt, Ph.D., and I’m hopeful of more to come.
- Greater youth education programming. Thanks to the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, we formed a regional summer camp with other institutions called Project Nature Bridge designed as a community-wide, weeklong summer camp built specifically for students whose connection with our natural resources was limited.
- A middle school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) summer camp focused on developing community solutions to sea level change, urban design and water quality.
- Expanded exhibitions like our current glass show “In Dialogue with Nature: Glass in the Gardens,” which brings the works of 15 Floridian glass artists to Sarasota from the Duncan McClellan Gallery in nearby St. Petersburg. (Duncan himself will be giving a talk on July 25 that I hope you’ll come see).
As you can see, our progress is moving onward and upward and I am energized about the results being attained by our teams.
As you know, we are well on our way to making Selby Gardens’ new master site plan a reality. Selby Gardens continues to develop with the leadership of landscape architecture studio OLIN and guidance from Trustees, advisory committee members, staff and our neighbors. This summer the team is working on schematic design of the first phase of the 10-year, multi-phase project. There has been great early fundraising success, and much more to come. All of the support relates back to safeguarding our collections, expanding the Gardens’ green space by 50 percent and improving the visitor experience. Along with these major gifts, equally important commitments are being made to our Legacy Society to ensure Selby Gardens will long be here for future generations to enjoy. With more than 170 members of the Society, I’m confident our garden will be in good hands well into the future. Look for much more to come on these future developments and fundraising initiatives – we will have big plans to share in the months ahead.
In the meantime, I encourage you to return to Selby Gardens and explore the seasonal changes, as well as the events and activities taking place here every day.
On behalf of all of us, thank you for the many ways you continue to support Selby Gardens.
Jennifer O. Rominiecki
President and CEO, Selby Gardens