Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

New Space for Plays in Manatee

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

New Space for Plays in Manatee

Article excerpt

BIG BOOST: With help from a major donor, arts center is set to open within a yearAn anonymous donor has pledged up to $1.5 million to help the Manatee Players theater group open its new performing arts center next year and kick-start the final fundraising needed to complete the new theater.At a news conference Tuesday at the unfinished riverfront Manatee Performing Arts Center, theater leaders announced plans to open the $12 million facility in time for a production of "Miss Saigon" in March 2013.Setting an opening date, they said, would provide a psychological boost to potential donors who might fear they were "throwing their money into a black hole; this really is happening," said Anthony Pizzo Jr., president of the theater board. "We know people were reluctant to give because they weren't sure we were going to finish."Completing the grand theater on the banks of the Manatee River to replace an aging downtown theater is also the goal of the anonymous contributor, who said that potential donors want to be "a ship on a rising tide, not on a sinking ship.""We can make it happen, but everybody has to pitch in," the donor told the Herald-Tribune in an interview Tuesday.His pledge is considered a loan/grant through the Manatee Community Foundation.The agreement, which is still being finalized, would make up to $1.5 million available to the theater to ensure its opening. The donation could encourage other donors to make new or matching contributions. He said there is no firm timeline, but his hope is the donation would be paid back as a loan to free him up to do charitable giving elsewhere."There is a risk involved in this, but the risk is ours, not the theater's," he said.The major donation should act as a seed, said Janene Witham, who spent six years as Capital Development Director and is now the theater's executive director. …

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