(Sarasota, FL) — Florida Studio Theatre is proud to announce that the FST Schools Endowment Fund has reached its $1 million goal. Housed at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, this endowment is funded by individual FST donors and a 2 to 1 match from The Patterson Foundation for donations benefiting explorations offered on EdExploreSRQ.com. Created by the Sarasota County School District with support from The Patterson Foundation, EdExplore SRQ connects classrooms to community arts, science, and culture organizations.
The Schools Endowment will secure annual funding of tickets for students from local Sarasota County high schools to attend matinee performances of FST’s Mainstage productions. It will also provide yearly resources for FST’s WRITE A PLAY program, which touches the lives of over 50,000 K-12 students each year. The WRITE A PLAY program is FST’s award-winning arts-in-education initiative providing students with the skills and motivation to create original plays in the classroom.
This funding will further the impact of FST’s work in schools through EdExplore SRQ, reaching underserved students, providing new, dynamic art explorations for each educators’ curriculum needs. Created by the Sarasota County School District with support from The Patterson Foundation, EdExplore SRQ connects classrooms to experiences offered by community arts, science, and culture organizations.
“Art enhances life. It is not the icing on the cake. It IS the cake,” said Richard Hopkins, Producing Artistic Director at FST. “We have long known that art is good for enhancing learning. We have long known that art is good for the economy. But most important, art is good for the soul. We need art in the schools to teach youngsters how, why, and where to use their education. Art teaches emotional intelligence. Art teaches us why we are alive.”
Historically, both the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation have touched the work of Florida Studio Theatre. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has supported FST in various avenues such as For The Ages and computer enhancements. In 2013, FST’s Education Department received a Pay it Forward award from The Patterson Foundation. This honor recognized the FST Education Department for utilizing new technology in classrooms, specifically though Safari Montage Live streaming video technology. Both foundations have shown generous support to FST’s WRITE A PLAY program for many years.
When asked why the Foundation contributed such a generous gift, President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, Debra Jacobs stated, “The Patterson Foundation’s goal through our 2 to 1 match for donations made to the EdExplore SRQ Endowment Fund is to encourage generosity that ensures access to experiential learning opportunities in perpetuity. EdExplore SRQ has proven to spark engaged learning that deserves to live on, and we laud the donors who have stepped forward to help make that happen.”
At a time when schools have taken tremendous funding cuts, FST has secured continual funding for education programs through the invaluable support of donors and community organizations. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has supported FST in various avenues, such as For The Ages, computer enhancements, and the WRITE A PLAY program for many years.
“The power of endowment, the arts, and education speaks for itself through the local impact the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has made throughout our 35-year history,” said Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “This endowed fund is yet another example of how individual donors can come together to ensure that life-changing experiences in the arts will always be a part of developing minds and hearts. We applaud FST for seizing the opportunity to ensure young minds will always have the opportunity to feel, think and understand first-hand how art and learning are synergistic.”
FST would like to recognize all of the contributors who made this endowment possible with their generosity. Lead Contributor of the Schools Endowment is Charles O. Wood III and the Miriam M. Wood Foundation. Leadership gifts were provided by Dennis and Graci McGillicuddy who also provided the capping gift to this endowment, Georgia Court, Shelley and Sy Goldblatt, and Thomas B. Wilson and Patrick J. Crimmings. Individual donations were given by Anonymous, Mandell and Madeline Berman Foundation, Abraham D. & Annette Cohen Foundation, Joel and Sandra Cuba, Tom and Celina Forrester, Jeff Hotchkiss, In Honor of Shelley and Sy Goldblatt, Harold and Valerie Joels, Harry Leopold Fund at Community Foundation of Sarasota County, David and Lois Stulberg Family Fund, Mrs. Jill Wilson, and Sally Yanowitz.
ven at subsidized rates, many area schools have trouble finding the funds to provide their students with arts-in-education experiences. Associate Director and Founder of FST’s Education program, Kate Alexander elaborates stating, “Now more than ever, the arts are critical to our young. There is a blitzkrieg of information bombarding the young mind at astonishing rates. The arts do not feed information but actively engage us in a panoramic experience; bringing us into an arena of empathy, self-awareness, imagination, spontaneity, confidence and so much more. It imparts what is important to us as a culture: growth, love, and sorrow. It speaks to what we do to each other as men and women, how we hurt each other, how we heal, and how we help. The theatre invigorates our soul, the fountainhead of our humanity, it’s now more important than ever.”
About Florida Studio Theatre
Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret, the John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.
Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.