WBTT Receives $25,000 In Matching Funds

Coconut Telegraph

SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY APR 21, 2020

With losses in the hundreds of thousands related to show cancellations due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Sarasota’s “miracle theater” – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe – has been looking for a miracle. With the community-wide Giving Challenge approaching later this month, a miracle has appeared in the form of a $25,000 challenge match to bolster donations during the 24-hour online philanthropic event. Funds raised through the Giving Challenge will help to get the organization through this period when no revenues are coming in. Additionally, they will provide resources to help WBTT shift its operations – with regard to keeping its education and mentorship efforts strong and available through virtual means – until a return to a traditional live format is possible and safe.

The donor group is made up of Board Chair Marian Moss, Executive Director Julie Leach and her husband, Brock, and longtime devoted supporters Sy and Shelley Goldblatt. While the Giving Challenge is boosted by a match from The Patterson Foundation for gifts from unique donors of between $25-$100, the $25,000 match applies to the first $25,000 in funds raised by WBTT, regardless of donor gift size and frequency. “While we understand much focus is on social services during this difficult time, it is our fervent hope that donors won’t overlook our community’s arts organizations – like WBTT – as the Giving Challenge plays out,” said Moss. “The arts are vital to our region’s quality of life, economy and tourist trade; additionally, they are a ‘virtual’ lifeline for people under the stay-at-home order. WBTT has proven its value and importance to our community; I’m thrilled to be able to support this incredible organization and hope our match will inspire others to support WBTT, too.”

Because of the coronavirus, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe officials were forced to cancel the remainder of WBTT’s 2019-2020 performance season several weeks into just the second mainstage show. The cancellation of these shows has the potential to cost the theatre as much as $400,000 in revenue – depending on the demand for refunds vs. ticket cost donations – and will likely put WBTT in the red for the season.

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