SARASOTA, FL (February 2, 2023) – Supporters of the Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC) recently gathered at the Ulla Searing Big Top on Regatta Island at Nathan Benderson Park for the organization’s 25th Anniversary Gala. During the event, guests enjoyed thrilling performances by Sailor Circus Academy students and world-class professional artists, plentiful photo opportunities with wandering youth performers, heartfelt grateful remarks by CAC founders Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs and executive vice president/COO Jennifer Mitchell, a lively paddle raise with an enthusiastic and generous response by supporters, a delicious catered dinner by Michael’s On East, and dancing in the Center Ring.
The event raised more than $400,000 in support of the CAC’s youth and education programs.
The performance portion of the program featured hand balancers the Alexis Brothers, who wowed audiences in Sarasota during the Circus Sarasota 2022 show, and an edgy and exciting duo straps performance by Maryna Tkachenko and Anasatasiia Kornieieva from Ukraine – the CAC has joined other members of the Global Alliance of Circus Schools in offering support and professional opportunities for Ukrainian artists in the wake of the country’s war with Russia. The Ukrainian duo will be featured as the closing act in the upcoming Circus Sarasota Legacy: 25th Anniversary Show, which runs from February 10-March 5.
Sailor Circus Academy students presented acts including hammock, slack rope, acrobatics, and a special Cyr wheel performance – on the ground and in the air – by long-time Sailor Circus Academy student Emma Clarke and her coach, Aleksandr Deevs, a renowned circus artist who specializes in Cyr wheel and spinning cube. This act showcased the incredible synergy of a professional working coach-student relationship.
Also performing were students from the Booker Middle School magnet program, which has provided a pipeline of new talent to the CAC’s Sailor Circus Academy.
At the conclusion of the speaking portion of the program, supporters Donna Koffman and Umbreen Khalidi-Majeed made an announcement about an exciting new special event to benefit the CAC: on May 12, the CAC will present “Wonderball,” featuring Grammy-nominated American DJ and electronic dance music producer Steve Aoki. Details and tickets will be released soon.
The internationally-renowned CAC is home to Circus Sarasota and the Sailor Circus Academy, the longest-running youth circus and after school training program in the U.S. Each year, CAC presents thrilling world-class performances for tens of thousands of circus lovers under the Big Top, in additional to providing after-school circus arts integrated training, STEAM arts, science education, and healthcare outreach programs to thousands of students and beneficiaries each year.
“Gala support provides significant and critical funding for the CAC’s arts education, emphasizing collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination, critical thinking and problem-solving,” said Jennifer Mitchell, executive vice president and COO for the CAC. “We are so grateful to our sponsors, guests, circus artists, volunteers and all who made our 25th Anniversary Gala such a spectacular success!”
Gala chairs were Julie Harris and Lauren Walsh. Lead sponsors included Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Julie Harris, JP Morgan Chase & Co., STAR Financial Solutions, Sun Outdoors, Lauren and Bernie Walsh/Justice Pays.
For more about the CAC’s programs and upcoming performances, visit circusarts.org.
About The Circus Arts Conservatory
The Circus Arts Conservatory, located in Sarasota, Fla., is home to world-class performances, excellence in training the circus arts, and community-based outreach programs. The organization was born from decades of circus history and today serves as a legacy to those that have set the standards for international circus artistry and education. The Circus Arts Conservatory is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Visit CircusArts.org for more information.