Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Westcoast Troupe Starts $6 Million Campaign | Officials Plan to Renovate Theater and Add Space for Education Programs Westcoast Troupe Starts $6 Million Campaign | Officials Plan to Renovate Theater and Add Space for Education Programs Westc; SARASOTA -- the [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Westcoast Troupe Starts $6 Million Campaign | Officials Plan to Renovate Theater and Add Space for Education Programs Westcoast Troupe Starts $6 Million Campaign | Officials Plan to Renovate Theater and Add Space for Education Programs Westc; SARASOTA -- the [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt

SARASOTA -- The

Westcoast Black

Theatre Troupe,

which once led a nomadic

existence moving from

one theater venue to

another, has launched a

$6 million capital cam-aign

to renovate and

expand the two-building

theater, education and

administrative office

campus it bought in 2013.

Theater officials announced

the Heart & Soul Capital Campaign

during its Emerald City

Ball, a fundraising event with a

"Wizard of Oz" theme tied to its

current musical "The Wiz."

Executive director Julie Leach

said that the theater company

was already nearly halfway to

its goal. Local philanthropist

and theater supporter Gerri

Aaron provided a $1 million gift,

which Leach said was matched

by members of the theater's

board. Nearly two dozen more

people have brought the current

total to $2.7 million. Leach said

she expects to raise the other

$3.3 million within the next three

years.

The theater troupe, which

was started by actor and director

Nate Jacobs in 1999, bounced

around among different Sarasota

theaters spaces until 2010 when

it first rented its current home on

Orange Avenue just north of 10th

Street. The company, which had

long struggled financially, later

purchased the two-building

property at auction and within

a year had paid off the mortgage.

The 2.5-acre property

includes a 15,000-square-foot

warehouse where it now presents

shows, and the adjacent

Binz Building, a historic storage

facility built in 1926 that will

become home to the theater's

offices, education programs,

studios and event spaces.

Leach said she is confident

about reaching the campaign

goal. "People love the theater

and have been very supportive

of us. We hope we'll be able to

raise the rest. We're just now

going out to more of our donors.

It's season, and many have come

back to town and we're looking

forward to talking with them."

C. Alan Anderson Architect is

designing the new facility, and

Willis Smith Construction will

manage the project.

The plans

The designs will include permanent

and expanded seating in

the theater, soundproofed walls,

improved sound and lighting

systems, more restroom

space and professional-level

dressing rooms and

rehearsal spaces with a

sprung floor for dancers,

Leach said. …

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