The Future Is Now: A Vision For Sarasota Performing Arts Center

SRQ Story Project

Our mission is to build a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds.

Fifty years ago, a city with a rich history of art, culture and philanthropy opened the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the center of civic and cultural vitality.

Since 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota to foster a connection between the city, the people, the bay, and the spirit of human creativity. Through this collaboration and the generosity of donors, the Foundation provides grants to ensure arts education training for more than 400 teachers and arts inspiration to more than 30,000 students in five counties each year.

Just as the founders of the Van Wezel Hall committed to an idea half a century ago, the City of Sarasota embraced a new vision, by adopting a transformative master plan for the Bayfront, with a new performing arts center at the heart of it. The Van Wezel Foundation is poised to lead this ambitious plan, guided by the needs of the community.

The Sarasota Performing Arts Center will enable the Foundation to deliver more significant programs and services while fulfilling its guiding priorities, including elevating Sarasota as a first-choice destination for the most celebrated and acclaimed performers, artists, dancers, musicians and ensembles; enhancing the patron experience through contemporary facilities, advanced technology and universal accessibility and design; expanding educational programming and engagement to serve more teachers and students, and provide access to the arts to underserved communities and raising our sights for creative exploration to reinforce Sarasota as the cultural mecca of the Gulf Coast.

As we embark on this once-in-a-lifetime endeavor, we want to hear from you. Please visit us online at to take a survey, learn of our plans and experience how the new performing arts center will be a place for ideas, a place for the arts, a place for you.

Cheryl Mendelson currently serves as the CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation and is leading the strategic effort for the new performing arts center in Sarasota.

Van Wezel

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