Van Wezel Foundation & City of Sarasota Execute Partnership Agreement to Build New Sarasota Performing Arts Center

Sarasota City Commission Meeting

The Sarasota City Commission today approved the execution of a partnership agreement with the Van Wezel Foundation for the planning, financing, design, and construction of the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center to be located in the heart of the Bay Park.

“Together, the city and the Foundation envision the Sarasota Performing Arts Center as a preeminent destination for the performing arts in the nation by offering extraordinary cultural and educational experiences that open a world of new possibilities for all,” said Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Foundation.

The Foundation and the city have had a thriving cultural partnership for over three decades, providing more than a half a million dollars annually to support the Van Wezel Hall. The Foundation remains dedicated to continuing and deepening its educational mission serving more than 58,000 students, educators and families each year.

“Now our partnership between the city and the Foundation enters into a new era that will shape the future of Sarasota and the greater Southwest Florida region,” said Jim Travers, Foundation Board Chair.

The Foundation has assembled a team of global theater experts to bring the new performing arts center to life. The architectural selection process will commence, and ongoing community engagement will continue over the coming year. The Foundation will also begin transitioning its name to the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation.

Additionally, as a public-private investment, the Foundation will launch a philanthropic campaign, of which the board has already committed the first $20 million. Public funding sources, including state and federal appropriations, will also be identified in collaboration with city management.

“The Foundation is committed to our partnership with the city to create a landmark for Sarasota for generations to come,” said Mendelson. “This is our legacy together—the future is now.”

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will continue to operate until a new performing arts center is completed. The city will form a blue-ribbon committee to determine its future.


The Van Wezel Foundation’s mission is to create and sustain a vibrant performing arts center, advance education, and enrich communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts. The Foundation has partnered with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall since 1987 to support arts education throughout our region, serving more than 50,000 students and their families annually with enriching arts-based education opportunities and professional development for more than 400 teachers across five counties. The Van Wezel Foundation is leading the vision to build a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center as a public-private partnership with the city, and in collaboration with the Bay Park Conservancy and Van Wezel Hall. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit For more information on the Foundation and its mission, visit, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.

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