SARASOTA, FL – For Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 24th anniversary fall gala, “Groovin’ on the Soul Train 2,” the arts organization celebrated the music from the #1 television platform for R&B and soul music. The event, attended by nearly 500 – most of whom were dressed on theme – featured hip décor and performances by favorite WBTT artists and its sizzling live band.
WBTT also enjoyed its best-ever fundraising effort, with over $320,000 pledged through the paddle raise during the event and an overall net of more than $450,000, which will support the operations of the Troupe.
Guests enjoyed a live performance from WBTT’s singers – including WBTT’s Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs and fan favorites Ariel Blue, Tarra Conner Jones, Michael Mendez, Raleigh Mosely II, Leon S. Pitts II, Maicy Powell, Sheldon Rhoden and more – and the WBTT band, with tunes that helped guests to relive memories from Soul Train’s peak, including “Freeway of Love,” “Love Train,” “Here I Am Baby,” “It’s Raining Men” and many more.
Longtime dedicated supporter and board member Cheryl Anderson was recognized as WBTT’s Heart & Soul Philanthropy honoree; Anderson made heartfelt and humorous remarks that addressed her experience in getting involved with the organization and her pride in seeing WBTT grow over the years.
The fundraising portion of the evening featured a matching opportunity: Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation recently awarded a grant of $150,000 to help WBTT mentor and train entry-level personnel critical to continuing the growth and success of the organization; of that amount, $50,000 was put forth as a challenge match that WBTT used to spark fundraising on behalf of this effort during the gala.
“We continue to be inspired by the love and support our community has continued to show for our work,” said WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. “We are also proud to present an event that fills the room with so much joy, appreciation, music, and fun. Our gratitude goes to our sponsors, theatre patrons, and all who took a ride on the Soul Train with us!”
Co-chairs were Eilene Maupin and Charlie Ann Syprett. Presenting Sponsors were Curtis Jordan and Paige Peterson, and Dona and Sam Scott.
Visit westcoastblacktheatre.org for more about WBTT.
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.