Sarasota Youth Opera Receives $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant to support on going Sarasota Youth Opera programs

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April 17, 2014




Contact:              Sam Lowry, Director of Audience Development


                                (941) 328-1322


                                [email protected]




Sarasota Youth Opera Receives


National Endowment for the Arts Grant


Grant to support on going Sarasota Youth Opera programs


Sarasota, FL— National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced today that Sarasota Opera is one of 886 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. Sarasota Opera is recommended for a $25,000 grant to support Sarasota Youth Opera programs.


Sarasota Youth Opera (YO) is the most comprehensive program in the United States to introduce young singers, ages 8 – 18, to opera, and the only program currently committed to annually producing fully-staged opera specifically for young voices. Since the program began in 1984, nearly 2,000 young people have been YO members. Youth Opera Programs provide direct, hands-on music education activities to over 1,100 Southwest Florida students each year. All students are welcomed at Sarasota Youth Opera; no student is ever turned away because of financial need, and partnerships with local youth nonprofits have resulted in a significant increase in YO enrollment since 2010.


Sarasota Youth Opera includes five distinct programs. One fully-staged youth opera is produced each fall, with two performances in repertory with the Opera’s fall main stage production. Youth Opera Productions have roles expressly written for children and young adults to perform. There have been a total of 26 different Youth Opera (YO) productions since 1986, including five commissions and multiple world premieres. These productions offer young singers from the greater Sarasota community in-depth musical, dramatic and interpretive training, culminating in public performances of legitimate operatic works, with principal and chorus roles of various sizes for youth. In November 2014, Sarasota Youth Opera plans a production of Dean Burry’s The Hobbit presented on Sarasota Opera’s main stage.       


NEA Acting Chairman Shigekawa said, “The NEA is pleased to announce that Sarasota Youth Opera is recommended for an NEA Art Works grant. These NEA-supported projects will not only have a positive impact on local economies, but will also provide opportunities for people of all ages to participate in the arts, help our communities to become more vibrant, and support our nation’s artists as they contribute to our cultural landscape.”


“We are extremely grateful to the NEA for their continued support of the Sarasota Youth Opera program,” says Executive Director Richard Russell.  “Through this grant, the NEA is helping us continue to provide high level music education and unique performance opportunities to the musical youth of the greater Sarasota Community.” 


Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancement of the livability of communities through the arts.  The NEA received 1,515 eligible applications under the Art Workscategory, requesting more than $76 million in funding. Of those applications, 886 are recommended for grants for a total of $25.8 million.


For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at






Based in Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera is approaching its 55th consecutive season.  In 1960, the company began presenting chamber-sized repertoire in the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979 and first performing in it in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. The theater has just undergone a $20-million renovation and rehabilitation enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.




Since 1983 the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi. Since then the company has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle producing the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its Invitation to Opera performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.




Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.



Sarasota Opera 61 N. Pineapple Avenue Sarasota, FL 34236 (941) 366-8450




Samuel Lowry


Director of Audience Development


Sarasota Opera

Direct Line:  (941) 328-1322

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