The Sarasota Pen Women recently celebrated 60 years of bringing local female artists, musicians and writers together each month to express their creative sides and perpetuate an arts-oriented culture in the area.
Members celebrated the anniversary with an exhibit at Ringling College of Art and Design, which ran through June 22 in the Richard and Barbara Basch Gallery and Willis Smith Gallery. Additionally, they participated at the Sapphire Shores Art Festival and the Venice Reading Festival back in March. The women meet monthly, October through April.
"My favorite aspect is our outreach projects," said president Brenda M. Spalding. "I enjoy going out to local events and letting the community know we exist. The other is our Achievement Awards luncheon for high school seniors. In giving these monetary awards we hope to help these children continue to pursue a career in the creative arts."
The organization has awarded more than $8,000 annually to graduating high school seniors in Manatee and Sarasota County public schools.
Spalding joined the organization in 2013 as a letters member with one children's book. She has since become an award-winning author with seven children's books and five adult novels to her name.
Additionally, the Sarasota Pen Women have a panel discussion held at local libraries, known as The Artist Journey.
"With this, we hope to tell others how we can to be artist, writers, or musicians," Spalding said.
During monthly luncheon meetings, guest speakers offer inspiration and education in the varied multi-disciplined arts. Members have earned awards at the state and national level through competitions and biennial awards.
The local presence is a branch of the National League of American Pen Women, Inc., which was founded in 1897 by a group of women who saw a need for an organization that would include women in the press. It has evolved into a national presence, which offers its members association with other creative professional women: workshops, discussion groups and lectures related to the creative process. Writing and poetry contests, art exhibitions (both juried and judged), and music composition competitions conducted at local branch, state and national levels of the organization.
In the coming months, the women will prepare for their Achievement Awards luncheon, which takes place in March.
"We are always looking for donors and funding to help us with this project," Spalding said. "We will be finding more events where we can introduce Pen Women to the community."