Sponsored Content

Van Wezel Foundation

We Heard You.

Presented by Van Wezel Foundation September 8, 2022

Mission: To create and sustain a vibrant performing arts center, advance education, and enrich communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts.

About Us

  • The Van Wezel Foundation was established in 1987 to partner with the city and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
  • For 35 years we have had a thriving cultural partnership that has been impactful.
  • Each year we provide meaningful arts experiences to over 50,000 students, families and educators.
  • The City of Sarasota has embraced a bold vision for the future of our community – the Sarasota Bayfront Master Plan.
  • A new world-class performing arts center will be at the heart of the Bayfront.
  • Together, with the city we are building a place for artistic excellence, innovative ideas and courageous exploration.
  • Join us MySarasotaPerformingArtsCenter.org

On September 6, 2018, the city of Sarasota embraced a transformative vision, by adopting a master plan for the Bay Park, with a new performing arts center at the heart of it. Through unprecedented community feedback from 18,000 residents of all ages, one thing is clear—there is a passion to ensure that Sarasota is the preeminent destination for the performing arts in the nation.

The overarching message of your feedback is that the performing arts are important to the quality of life for our community. You told us that you want a new performing arts center that’s a civic asset and iconic symbol for the pride of Sarasota. We assembled global experts for siting and engineering studies to plan for a contemporary venue that’s environmentally sustainable, resilient, and designed for future sea rise. You prioritized universal design, building accessibility- including center aisles - and state-of-the-art technological advances that enhance the audience experience. We’ve researched arts centers around the world and compiled best practice models and case studies to help inform the architectural selection process.

You want dynamic connectivity between the performing arts center and the blue and green spaces in the Bay Park. Our collaboration with the Bay Park Conservancy will ensure a unique opportunity for nature, community, and culture to meet through a range of diverse programming and simulcast performance technology open and accessible to all.

You want a main hall that is large enough to compete for first-run Broadway tours, popular contemporary acts, and internationally renowned artists. We also heard from local performing

arts and cultural organizations that they aspire for artistic exploration and a venue to celebrate unique collaborations. The building program outlines a 2,100-seat main theater, a smaller flexible performance space, and multiple public and event spaces, designed with the goal to nurture excellence in artists, inspire wonder in audiences, and spark curiosity in learners.

Respondents throughout the region validated the importance of providing cultural learning opportunities across all ages. For more than 30 years, arts education and integration has been at the core of the Foundation’s philanthropic mission. We are committed to continue to build forward-thinking partnerships to deepen our work with the more than 50,000 children, educators and families that we impact each year.

Survey results were clear that the performing arts are a critical driver to a community’s economic development and prosperity, contributing to jobs, tourism, and commerce. We couldn’t agree more. The new performing arts center will not only create over 5,000 jobs during the planning and construction over the next 5-7 years, but it will be an epicenter for the growth of the creative economy. 

We heard you—the time is now to create a new symbol for the pride of everything that Sarasota has been and continues to be, as a leader in Southwest Florida.

Join us as we move to architect selection for a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center – a place for ideas, a place for the arts, a place for you. The future is here.

Van Wezel Foundation
777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 366-5578