Our Story

Fifty years ago, a city with a rich history of art, culture and philanthropy opened the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the center of civic and cultural vitality.

Since 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota to foster a connection between the city, the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity. Through this collaboration and the generosity of donors, the Foundation has provided grants of more than $14 million to ensure arts education training for more than 400 teachers and arts education programming to more than 30,000 students and at-risk youth across four counties each year.

Our Mission

The mission of the Van Wezel Foundation is to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds. 

Leading Roles

VAN WEZEL FOUNDATION
BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2019-2020

Jim Travers, Chair
Michael Martella, Vice-Chair
Gerald L. Biller, Interim Secretary
Elaine McClure, Interim Treasurer
Michael J. Wilson, Legal Counsel
Cheryl Mendelson, CEO, Van Wezel Foundation
Mary Bensel, Executive Director,
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Ali Bahaj
Jenne Britell
Chad Campbell
Vern Chalfant
Brian D. Ellerson
Mark P. Famiglio
David Koffman
Karl Newkirk
Sharyn Weiner

FOUNDERS CIRCLE

John M. Dart
Beatrice Friedman†
John Jakes
Carolyn Michel
Michael R. Pender, Jr.

† deceased

STAFF

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