SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was recently awarded a grant of $30,000 from the Zella I. and Junius F. Allen Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. These funds will support WBTT’s upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. program, 2021 April Fools’ Fete, and next summer’s Stage of Discovery musical theatre camp.
This grant is particularly meaningful as WBTT struggles with the loss of revenue not only from show cancellations but also its fall gala, which was postponed and then canceled in November after an outbreak of the coronavirus among the cast and crew of its “Light Up the Night” open-air concerts.
“We are so grateful to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for its continued support of our organization,” said Julie Leach, executive director of WBTT. “Our arts community has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and this funding will be essential to help us maintain our presence and relevance through the supported programs and events.”
Through the pandemic, WBTT has continued to provide programming in a variety of forms to its patrons, artists and students. It has been fortunate to receive a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, numerous foundation grants, and generous donations from community members to keep the organization running and vital, even in these challenging times. The organization also was gratified at the level of support it received in the 2020 Giving Challenge – WBTT came in ninth out of the nearly 700 participating nonprofits.
“While it is devastating for us to be away from our stage – especially at a time when people could use the arts more than ever – the funding from community organizations like the Community Foundation of Sarasota County reminds me just how fortunate we are to be in a place like Sarasota, where the arts are appreciated and so generously supported,” said Nate Jacobs, founder and artistic director of WBTT.
The MLK program will be presented through streaming video on January 16-18, and the April Fools’ Fete will take place on April 5. WBTT leaders will wait to make a determination about the run dates and logistics for Stage of Discovery – such as whether the camp will take place in person or be offered virtually again this year.
For more about WBTT, call (941) 366-1505 or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
PHOTO ID: Students from WBTT’s 2020 Stage of Discovery program during the recording of a music video | Photo by Sorcha Augustine
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, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.
About the Community Foundation of Sarasota County
The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of $418 million in more than 1,500 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling $21.5 million dollars last year in the areas of education, the arts, health and human services, civic engagement, animal welfare and the environment. Since its founding, the Community Foundation has been able to grant more than $274 million to area nonprofit organizations to our community thanks to the generosity of charitable individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit www.CFSarasota.org or call (941) 955-3000.