SARASOTA, FL – The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has received a $25,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help underwrite its 2024 production of “Ruby” as well as to defray the costs of community outreach activities related to the play.
Just this morning, NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD has approved more than $31 million in grants for 1,130 projects – including the WBTT award – as part of the NEA’s second round of funding for Grants for Arts Projects in fiscal year 2023.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to support a wide range of projects, including Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s production of ‘Ruby,’ demonstrating the many ways the arts enrich our lives and contribute to healthy and thriving communities,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Organizations like WBTT play an important role in advancing the creative vitality of our nation and helping to ensure that all people can benefit from arts, culture, and design.”
After two painful postponements due to COVID, WBTT is thrilled to finally bring the world-premiere musical “Ruby” to the stage. The backstory: On August 3, 1952, the unthinkable happened – a Black woman murdered a white doctor in Live Oak, Fla., guaranteeing a conviction for the woman bold enough to commit such a shocking crime and bringing celebrated writer Zora Neale Hurston to town to cover the story for a northern newspaper. This powerful and haunting musical by WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs and his brother, Michael Jacobs, explores the secrets just beneath the surface of the idyllic, genteel exterior of a quaint Florida town. Nate Jacobs will direct. Show runs February 28-April 7, 2024.
The community outreach activities WBTT will implement include two free performances of “Ruby” for low-income and minority-based community and student groups, and a free “WBTT Voices” community forum focusing on the content of the play.
“WBTT is thrilled to receive this highly competitive award from the NEA, which affirms the value of our unique artistic contributions to the community,” said Julie Leach, WBTT’s executive director. “We have been waiting for so long to bring ‘Ruby’ to the stage and are excited to finally be able to do so – with the NEA’s support – next winter.”
For more information on other projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news. For more about WBTT, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists, and builds self-esteem in youth of color. Visit westcoastblacktheatre.org for more information.