Van Wezel Foundation Logo 2020

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
Arts Center?

  • 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
Management Agency)
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:

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:
  • 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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