Back in the days when Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was traveling from venue to venue to present its shows and struggling to gain a sound financial footing, who would have guessed that the company would currently be in the middle of a $6 million capital campaign to expand and improve its very own home at 10th Street and Orange Avenue?
Well, maybe founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs dreamed of it. On Monday, as WBTT held a ceremonial groundbreaking marking the beginning of the first phase of construction to the Binz Building on the front of its campus, with a “Raise the Roof” event, he and those instrumental in reaching this day had cause to celebrate.
The Binz, which stands by the company’s theater but is currently unoccupied, will become WBTT’s headquarters for administrative offices and education and outreach programs. Monday’s speakers included, besides Jacobs, executive director Julie Leach, board chair Marian Moss, and Heart & Soul capital campaign chair Doris Johnson, as well as Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert and former Mayor Willie Shaw. The morning also included a musical number performed by teen participants of WBTT’s summer intensive musical theater camp, Stage of Discovery.
Plans for the Binz Building include a first-floor education wing; a 4,000-square-foot space functioning as multipurpose rooms; a second floor with weekday box office, conference room and offices; a library; and a 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden terrace event space for patrons and other community organizations.
The first phase of enhancements also calls for a paved courtyard between the theater and the Binz, with outdoor seating for pre-show mingling. Expanded parking and better lighting are also part of the improvements.
Once work on the Binz building is finished and sufficient funds raised (the campaign just broke the $4 million mark), improvements will be made to the current theater building as well. Architect for the project is C. Alan Anderson Architect, P.A.; construction management firm is Willis Smith Construction.
For more information about the Heart & Soul campaign, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org/heart-and-soul.