FASS Passes Million Dollar Milestone



Raising and awarding $52,500 in scholarships for young artists this year, The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota (FASS) crossed a major giving threshold in bringing the accumulated sum of scholarship funds presented to a grand total of $1,011,760 and crossing the million dollar milestone. Dedicated to educating the community regarding Sarasota’s rich artistic history and the artists currently residing and working in the area, FASS has granted scholarships to students pursuing the arts since 1969.

“It certainly is amazing for a small group of people to be able to give that much,” says FASS President Vern Livingston Weitz of passing the million dollar milestone this year. FASS scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000 a year per student, but undergraduate artists are permitted to reapply each year.

The organization also supports local artists through community education, programming and even purchasing work from area artists for a curated collection held at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The collection provides a sort of historical view of Sarasota’s artistic contributions, says Weitz, and some paintings in the collection date back to the 1930s. But with a career in the arts being forever a risky endeavor, Weitz sees the scholarship offerings as one of the most important aspects of what FASS does for the community. “Sarasota is full of talent,” she says. “It’s important that [the students] get their opportunity to show who they are and what they can do.”

Awarding scholarships to 19 students in a ceremony yesterday where many of the young artists also performed, Weitz was blown away—and reassured of purpose. “We have never had such a talented group as we have this year,” she says, noting an exceptionally strong showing from the musical comedy crowd. “I can see them on Broadway in just a few years.”

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