Mission and History
Board of Directors
The FAQs address 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.
If your question is not answered, click on Contact Us and we will respond as soon as possible.
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 48 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 go to Contact Us and click on Information Request Form. Under Subject, select Board Membership and fill out the form. You will be contacted.
5. Can I help even if I don't have the time to serve on the Board?
Yes, you can become a volunteer selling tickets, counting admissions, or ushering at a lecture series. Normally, the work is done when the lecture begins, and the volunteers attend the lectures without charge. Go to Contact Us and click on Volunteer for more information.
6. How is SILL financed?
The vast majority of SILL revenue comes from the sale of tickets and contributions from the Friends of SILL. 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 but 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. When is the coming year's program of topics and speakers announced?
The topics and speakers for each series are posted to the website about the middle of October and the brochures are mailed about the first of November.
5. Where are the lectures?
SILL uses a variety of venues depending on anticipated attendance and the particular topic. The Sarasota Music series is at the Church of the Palms, and the Venice Music series is at the Venice Presbyterian Church. The Sarasota Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Global Issues series are at the First United Methodist Church. The Venice Global Issues series are at the Venice Community Center. The Lakewood Ranch Series is at Cornerstone Church. Directions to the various sites are included on the website and printed versions of the program.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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. 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.
1. How do I obtain tickets to SILL lectures?
Single day tickets can be purchased at the door on the day of the lecture. Season tickets can be purchased by mail or by credit card via the website starting about March 15th. Order forms are available in 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 use the website to 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 and leaving a message. Season tickets can be purchased during the first two weeks of the season for all lecture series when available. Tickets are allocated on a first-come first-served basis. Although there is expected to be adequate space for everyone, SILL reserves the right to cease ticket sales to a series when venue capacity is reached.
2. What do tickets cost?
Single day tickets are $10 for all programs. Season ticket prices are $85 for each series.
3. Can I use my series ticket to attend lectures in other series?
No. A series ticket is only valid for lectures in the series named on that ticket.
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?
Lost tickets are not replaced. However, you can still attend lectures. Each time you attend, speak to the Venue Registrar who will confirm from the master list that you purchased a series ticket. You will then be given a day ticket to enter.
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.