SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has been awarded $25,000 in support of its endowment through a challenge match from The Lee Wetherington Foundation of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The matching gift was made by WBTT supporters Ken Schneier and Cynthia Craig, who immediately responded to the announcement of the Wetherington challenge during WBTT’s donor thank-you celebration this past spring.
Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe made the growth of its endowment a component of its Heart & Soul capital campaign, which has provided the funds to renovate the Binz Building (now the Education & Outreach Building) and its theater building, and to make improvements to its 2 1/2-acre campus. The endowment, which will provide support in perpetuity for WBTT’s performing arts center, artist development, education, and outreach, will generate annual income that will provide funds for:
• Future capital repair and replacement;
• Minority youth artist development programs, such as the Stage of Discovery summer musical theater camp and the Young Artist Program;
• One-to-one mentoring and training programs for aspiring minority artists;
• Internships for developing artists each season;
• Outreach programs to schools and senior communities; and
• Adult education programs.
“I’m thrilled that we can help Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe with our challenge grant,” said Lee Wetherington. “They’ve been one of our favorite charities because they make such good use of our contributions. Their mission and ours align perfectly, especially the services they provide for disadvantaged children in our community.”
Wetherington, founder and president of Lee Wetherington Homes – “America’s Best Builder”— has operated the acclaimed home-building company for over 40 years with an ongoing commitment to giving back. In 2002, he made a personal donation of $1 million to establish the Lee Wetherington Foundation and has repeated that donation in 2004 and 2005. The Foundation helps to underwrite major youth programs, including the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County and numerous other area charities. The Foundation’s focus, in part, is on the less fortunate members of our society, especially disadvantaged youth.
“We are so grateful to the Lee Wetherington Foundation and our donors, Ken Schneier and Cynthia Craig, for ensuring WBTT’s mission and purpose will be supported in the future, lifting up many generations of aspiring artists looking for a diverse platform on which to build their professional careers,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “Thanks to this matching opportunity by Lee Wetherington, we were able to more than double our existing endowment.”
The campus renovations at WBTT are scheduled to be completed by December 2019. Its theater season begins with a holiday production at the Sarasota Opera House in December and then the four-show mainstage season begins in January 2020 with Caroline, Or Change.
The Heart & Soul capital campaign currently stands at $7.9 million (of the $8 million goal); WBTT is working to close the campaign. Contact Julie Leach for the remaining gifting opportunities available: 941-366-1505, ext. 103.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. Its mission is to produce professional theater that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information about WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.
About the Lee Wetherington Foundation
Lee Wetherington, founder and president of Lee Wetherington Homes, made an initial personal donation of $1 million in 2002 to establish the Lee Wetherington Foundation, administered by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. He repeated the gift again in 2004 and 2005. The Foundation’s purpose is to award grants primarily to those whose needs are not addressed by other governmental or charitable entities, with a focus on the less fortunate and especially disadvantaged youth.