Van Wezel Foundation Receives $25,000 Matching Gift from the James and Maryann Armour Family Foundation

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Van Wezel Foundation Receives $25,000 Matching Gift from the James and Maryann Armour Family Foundation for Virtual Arts Education Experiences

SARASOTA, September 28, 2020 – The Van Wezel Foundation kicks off its 2021 giving season with a $25,000 matching gift, thanks to the generosity of the James and Maryann Armour Family Foundation. Now through October 4, all donations received as part of this campaign will be matched dollar for dollar up to $25,000 and go toward Virtual Schooltime Performances, led by the Van Wezel’s Arts Education Department. Last year, the Van Wezel Foundation’s investment in arts education provided more than 35,000 arts experiences for students and their families. With this year’s program going virtual, even more students and families can participate in these impactful learning experiences.

“This has been a challenging time for so many teachers and their students,” said Maryann Armour. “With the amazing Virtual Schooltime Performances planned, our gift will ensure even more children begin a love of learning and experience the performing arts in a meaningful and relevant way.” The retired teacher and her husband have supported the Van Wezel Foundation since 2006. They share the Foundation’s belief that engagement in the arts is essential for communities to thrive.

With additional support from donors and investors, Foundation grants will go toward a series of Virtual Schooltime Performances and other innovative curriculum-based programs. Many virtual arts experiences will include a live Zoom talkback with actors and authors after each performance. The series will be available to every classroom in all schools across five counties, including Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Charlotte and Hillsborough. Additional programming will be available for after school programs and social service organizations serving students in PreK – grade 12.

“For nearly 15 years, the James and Maryann Armour Family Foundation has invested in arts education for students,” noted Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation. “With the matching gift campaign supporting virtual arts experiences, their gift, and every donation matched, will ensure limitless learning opportunities for teachers, students and families throughout our region.”


Since 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the city of Sarasota to foster a connection between the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity. The Foundation’s mission is to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds. Each year, the Foundation provides grants to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to support arts education throughout our region. Together, we serve more than 35,000 students with enriching arts-based education opportunities in-person and online and professional development for nearly 250 teachers across five counties. In 2018, the city of Sarasota approved a master plan to develop 53 acres on The Bay into a vibrant, accessible park with a new performing arts center at the heart of it. The Foundation is leading The Future is Now Campaign to help the community realize the promise of the master plan and experience the new performing arts center as a civic asset for generations to come. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit For more information on the Foundation and its mission, visit, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.


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