The FAQs addresses many of the more common questions about the SILL organization and its volunteers, the variety of lecture series provided and the options for purchasing SILL tickets.
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The FAQs are organized into groups. The first group answers common questions about SILL as an institution and the people who are involved, including how you can participate in SILL activities. The second group of questions covers the subject areas of our lectures and many additional details, such as the location of the lectures. Last are answers to questions about the SILL ticketing process. Tickets are easy to obtain and surprisingly affordable!
1. What is SILL?
SILL, the Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning, is a not-for-profit organization providing college-level lecture series on global issues and music. SILL is not affiliated with any political party or other organization. SILL is 41 years old and has a reputation of providing high quality lectures.
2. Who runs SILL?
SILL is governed by a 24-member volunteer Board of Directors. There are also adjunct directors and other volunteers. There are no paid employees.
3. Who are the Board members?
The Board members are drawn from a number of sources. Some were academics; others were in the government or the Foreign Service. Many were in various businesses and bring their expertise to the management of SILL.
4. How does one become a member of the SILL Board?
The Board is always looking for new members who are willing to participate actively in the work of SILL. Usually, the Board is interested in people with specific skills to perform certain functions, e.g., recruiting speakers, public relations experts, accounting, database management, etc. The people selling tickets at the door and ushering at SILL lectures may be Board members or other volunteers. If you are interested in becoming involved in SILL, please speak to a Board member at any lecture or complete the application form.
5. Can I help even if I don't have the time to serve on the Board?
Yes, there are many people whose involvement is limited to selling tickets, counting admissions, or ushering at one lecture series. The important thing is that you show up regularly since we will be counting on you. Normally, the work is done when the lecture begins, and the volunteers attend the lectures without charge.
6. How is SILL financed?
The vast majority of SILL revenue comes from the sale of tickets. Increasingly, revenue from the Friends of SILL has been needed to ensure a positive operating budget. We have exercised considerable effort to hold down the price of tickets, making SILL a relative bargain compared with other leisure and educational activities in Sarasota.
7. How can I contribute to the Friends of SILL?
Donations to the Friends of SILL are tax deductible and will be acknowledged as required by law. We have created various levels of giving to meet the needs of our benefactors and, although we welcome and encourage larger gifts, most contributions are relatively modest. Of course we are grateful for any support offered. For your convenience, you may use the on-line ticket order form which can be mailed with a check to the Registrar.
1. Who attends the SILL lectures?
The most common denominator is interest in the subject, whether it be U.S.-China commercial relations or the Beethoven symphonies. Based on past surveys, our audience is composed predominantly of senior citizens, most of whom hold advanced academic degrees. However, there are no educational requirements and we welcome people of any age.
2. Who selects the speakers?
The SILL Program Committee is responsible for selecting the speakers. Various members of the committee are responsible for particular programs. Normally, committee members have substantial expertise in the subject matter.
3. Where do the speakers come from?
Speakers are recruited from academic institutions, think-tanks, the government, and the foreign service. The committee is careful to review the qualifications of the speaker to address his or her topic.
4. Where are the lectures?
SILL uses a variety of venues depending on anticipated attendance and the particular topic. The Sarsota Monday music series is at Holley Hall. The Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lectures in Sarasota are at the Players Theatre. The Venice Monday music series is at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice. The Tuesday and Friday lectures are at the Venice Community Center.
5. Can I recommend a speaker?
Audience suggestions are welcome but should be made in writing. Give your ideas for topics or speakers to a responsible party at the lecture or select "Recommend a Speaker" on our on-line form. Some background information on the proposed speaker should be provided. Be aware, however, that there are many factors involved in selecting speakers and we cannot guarantee that a particular speaker will be selected.
6. How long are the lectures?
Most lectures are 40-50 minutes, followed by up to 30 minutes of audience questions. Microphones are provided so that questions can be asked. Usually, speakers stay until all questions are asked. Many speakers have commented favorably on the quality of the questions asked by the SILL audiences.
7. Who evaluates the speakers?
Survey forms are available at the lectures and completed evaluations are given to the appropriate members of the Program Committee. There are usually several members of the Board at each lecture and they pass verbal comments on to the respective committee members as well. Evaluation forms are also available online. Evaluations are particularly important and critical to our providing a quality program. Your participation is encouraged and appreciated. Our speakers also welcome the comments. Some speakers are invited back year after year because of the positive response of the audience.
8. What are the seminars?
There are usually 8 - 10 seminars on issues related to foreign affairs. Attendance at these seminars is limited to 30 people. The seminar format is less formal than the large lectures, and the attendees are encouraged to participate in the discussion. Because attendance is limited to a small number of people, tickets to many of the seminars sell out during the first weeks of registration. After that time, one should check the website or call the SILL phone number to determine if there are still seats available for a specific seminar.
1. How do I obtain tickets to SILL lectures?
Single day tickets can be purchased "at the door" on the day of the lecture, except for rare instances in which season ticket holders fill all the seats. Despite selling out our Thursday Series tickets, no one was turned away for the lack of seats in 2010. Season tickets can be purchased by mail beginning October 15th. Order forms are at the back of our brochure, which is available at Sarasota County libraries and many other public places of visitor interest. The website also offers a printable order form. Those who purchase a series ticket are placed on the mailing list for next year, as well those who submit a form asking to have their name added to the list. A brochure can also be obtained by calling SILL at 941-365-6404. Season tickets are available for sale at all lectures during the first two weeks of the season.
2. What do tickets cost?
Single day tickets are $7 for all programs. Season ticket prices are $75 for the programs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Sarasota. [Monday and Thursday are sold out]. Thursday Seminars are $30 each and nearly all tickets are sold in advance. Tickets for the Venice Monday Music series are $75. Tickets for the Tuesday and Friday series in Venice are $75 for each series.
3. Who obtains tickets to the more popular programs?
There is a pre-registration starting in March for all Sarasota lectures. Existing subscribers have the opportunity to purchase tickets prior to general availability.
4. Are tickets refundable?
All ticket sales are final. If tickets are purchased in error, they may be exchanged for other tickets on an availability basis at the discretion of the Registrar. The Registrar will buy back tickets before the start of the season in cases of death or an illness that prevents attendance.
5. Are lost tickets replaced?
The replacement of lost tickets is at the discretion of the Registrar. If your ticket is purchased by another person as part of a group purchase, there is no record that you bought a ticket. If you bought the ticket under your own name, or the name of another person at the same address, the Registrar has a list and will normally replace lost tickets.
6. If I provide information for tickets, the mailing list or for any other purpose, will my information be protected?
All information you provide to SILL is held in strictest confidence. We do not trade, rent or sell this information to outside companies. We only use this information to personalize your SILL experience, meet your requests and, as appropriate, notify you about special offers or programs.
If you have any further questions that we have not answered, please contact us.
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