Q & A:
A VISION FOR THE SARASOTA
PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Q & A:
A VISION FOR THE SARASOTA
PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Is the Sarasota Performing Arts
Center part of the Bay Park
Master Plan development and
who is leading the vision?
Van Wezel Foundation is a nonprofit established in 1987 to partner with the city of Sarasota to support arts education and special initiatives at the city-owned Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
On Sept. 6, 2018, the Sarasota City Commission approved the Bay Park Master Plan with the new performing arts center at the heart of it.
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.
The Van Wezel Foundation has invested close to $2 million in private philanthropy in the planning, community engagement and vision development for the new performing arts center.
Why does Sarasota
need a new Performing
According to the city’s 2017 Climate Adaptation Plan, the 50-year-old Van Wezel Hall is among the city’s most vulnerable structures, sitting in a high risk flood zone. The Hall is nearing the end of its service life.
The existing Van Wezel Hall design does not support contemporary performance and patron needs. Building a new state-of-the-art center, which includes technological advances and accessible, multiple performance spaces, will attract world-class artists and diverse programming to serve the community year-round.
With fewer than 2,000 seats, the Van Wezel Hall is at a competitive disadvantage for early routing of national tours.
In a 2018 survey conducted by the Foundation, 10,000 respondents rated building a new performing arts center as a priority of the Bay Park Master Plan.
The city of Sarasota plans to convene a blue ribbon committee to advise on the future of the Van Wezel Hall.
What are the Flood Zone and
FEMA (Federal Emergency
requirements for this project?
FEMA designates areas of risk and accompanying guidelines to provide sustainability and safety for buildings and new construction.
FEMA compliance codes preclude necessary renovations of the Van Wezel Hall, as structural modifications exceed more than 50% of the building’s value.
New construction on the Bayfront requires FEMA and building code regulation (16’) + sea level rise prediction for a 70-year structural life span = engineering recommendation for new performing arts center built “on stilts” at height of 18.9’.
How was the location of the
10th Street/north corner of the
Van Wezel Hall parking lot
chosen for the new
Performing Arts Center?
Bay Park Conservancy undertook extensive community workshops, sharing Sasaki’s Master Plan concepts. The 10th Street location was chosen because:
Location allows for the Van Wezel Hall to remain open during construction ensuring community access to the performing arts;
Prominent location along 10th Street and Highway 41 creates an iconic Sarasota landmark;
Successful national models of vibrant park developments with performing arts centers were studied to validate project goals.
What spaces can we expect to be
included in the planning for the
new performing arts center?
230,000 sq. ft. venue committed to universal design and accessibility
2,250 seat mainstage including center aisle(s)
400 seat flexible performance space
10,000 sq. ft. education & lifelong learning center including 150 flexible seat lecture hall; rehearsal, gallery and community meeting spaces
A 90’ fly tower to meet the demands of artistic innovations into the future
Multiple outdoor public performance spaces
National model for advanced technology for health and safety post-pandemic
What is a fly tower and why is
it essential to a state-of-the-art
performing arts center?
A fly tower rises above the stage to house the system of rope lines, pulleys, and devices that enable a stage crew to “fly” (or hoist) curtains, lights, scenery, and stage effects during a performance.
Design and technology of contemporary performing arts centers require more vertical space to accommodate the recommended fly tower height of 90’.
Current performances at Van Wezel Hall are limited due to a 69’ fly tower, making large scale productions difficult or prohibitive.
What are the next steps to design
the new performing arts center?
The new performing arts center rendering shown on the Bay Park Master Plan is only a concept to illustrate location and relationship in the Park.
The Foundation hired Sasaki to conduct an engineering analysis to confirm:
Building siting and access strategies
Coastal resilience and sustainability strategies
Building-to-Park greenspace relationship
The Foundation’s global theater consultants will help lead a request for proposal (RFP) process in 2021 to select an architect and design team, incorporating the values and aspirations of our community.
What are the community
benefits of building a world-class
performing arts center now?
Create planning and construction jobs over the next 5-7 years as an economic driver post-pandemic.
Increase commercial and residential property values as endorsed by $200 million+ Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Plan approved by Sarasota City and County Commissions.
Drive commerce to local businesses year-round.
Promote Sarasota and the region as a world-class cultural destination.
Accelerate the growth of diversity in economic and artistic areas.
Advance educational opportunities for educators, children and families and lifelong learners.
Invest in the quality of life for the Gulf Coast region for generations to come.
How will the new
center be funded?
The new performing arts center is estimated to cost between $250-$275 million. It will be funded through a combination of private philanthropy and public funding tools, utilizing city, county, state and federal resources and opportunities.
The Sarasota City and County Commission approved a 30-year Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) plan with a portion to be allocated to the new performing arts center.
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777 North Tamiami Trail, 3rd Floor, Sarasota, FL 34236
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