Van Wezel Foundation Grants $540,000 to Support Arts Education

The Giving Coast

Pictured: An Alta Vista student explores Language Arts Standards through Visual Arts, funded by the Van Wezel Foundation.

The Van Wezel Foundation is proud to announce it has provided more than $540,000 this past year to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to underwrite arts education and community engagement programs for students, educators, and families throughout the Suncoast. The Foundation continued its long tradition of partnering with the Van Wezel Hall on arts integration, which included funding for Schooltime Performances, a program that presents nationally renowned artists and performances for area students. Each Schooltime Performance connects to Florida Standards through engaging, awe-inspiring performing arts. Because of this partnership, and despite the challenges of COVID-19, 12,826 students were able to experience live theatre. Over 200 family members participated in Family Arts Night Activities, and more than 1,200 art kits were distributed to families via Sarasota and Manatee County libraries.

“The Van Wezel Foundation has been providing philanthropic support to the Hall and arts education for 35 years,” said Mary Bensel, Executive Director of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. “Engagement in the arts is essential to every student, teacher and community member. Our partnership allows us to provide programs that enrich the lives of children, educators, and families, and assures each teacher has the tools and resources to reach every student and that student receives a well-rounded education.”

The Foundation was also proud to sponsor opportunities to extend access to the arts through multi-cultural and educational performances with UnidosNow, West Coast Black Theater Troupe, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, and a master class led by Harry Connick, Jr. with students from Booker High School. “I am grateful to our donors for their genuine commitment to our mission to create and sustain a vibrant performing arts center, advance education, and enrich communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts,” said Van Wezel Foundation CEO Cheryl Mendelson.

Pictured: An Alta Vista student explores Language Arts Standards through Visual Arts, funded by the Van Wezel Foundation.

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