SARASOTA, FL – Nate Jacobs, the founder and artistic director of Sarasota’s Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT), was a participant in the recent Zoom discussion, “Black Theatre Founders,” organized by Hattiloo Theatre of Memphis, Tenn. Jacobs, Greg Williams Jr. of New Venture Theatre in Baton Rouge, La., and Wren T. Brown of Ebony Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. served as the panelists, discussing their uphill journeys to build their respective theatres from the ground up. They shared how they developed their vision, raised funds to support that vision, built audiences to experience that vision, and then establish spaces to house that vision.
As the Hattiloo Theatre explained – and Jacobs has noted numerous times over the course of his performance and theatre management journey – the absence of genuine and insightful Black experiences on mainstages across the country has necessitated Black artists to establish spaces where the voices of the Black community and its past can be spotlighted and showcased on stage for public enjoyment and illumination. Founding a Black theatre is no small feat, given the inequities in funding and visibility.
Jacobs was selected in recognition of the many successes of WBTT, which include years of sold-out shows and special events, the recent Heart & Soul capital campaign, which raised $8.5 million, and the renovation of its now state-of-the-art theater building, Education & Outreach Building and grounds.
The video of the Zoom discussion is available on Vimeo; search “Black Theatre Founders Video 2020.”