A place for ideas. A place for the arts. A place for you.

Play Video

COMmunity FEEDBACK from
18,000+ people across our region

  • You want the new Performing Arts Center to be an iconic symbol for the pride of Sarasota 
  • You want a contemporary venue, built to be environmentally sustainable,  resilient, and designed to meet future sea rise
  • You want state-of-the-art patron amenities – including center aisles – and technological advances that enhance the audience experience
  • You want dynamic connectivity between the performing arts center and the blue and green spaces in the Bay Park
  • You want diverse, year-long programming, that is accessible and open to all 
  •  You want a place where Sarasota’s local performing arts and cultural organizations can invest in artistic exploration
  • You want to compete for first-run national Broadway tours, and internationally renowned artists
  • You want cultural opportunities for children, and their families 
0 %

agreed that the performing arts are important to the economic development and well-being of the Gulf Coast community, contributing to jobs, tourism, and retail operations.

0 %

would attend the Performing Arts Center more often if there were more programming options.

0 %

believe that it is important for communities to provide cultural learning opportunities for children and families.

0 %

say that the performing arts should be open and accessible to all people regardless of socioeconomic status, and it is important that underserved communities gain access to the performing arts.


The Sarasota Performing Arts Center will be a gateway to connect community and culture.


To fulfill this mission, the project will…

  • Nurture excellence in artists
  • Inspire wonder in audiences
  • Spark curiosity in learners


  • 200,000 sq. ft. venue

  • 2,200 seat main stage

  • flexible performance space 

  • Integrated education & lifelong learning programming

  • Multiple outdoor public performance spaces 

  • Parking & transportation options

Building a Mission-Based Civic Asset

Nestled along The Bay, the Sarasota Performing Arts Center will become an iconic, mission-based civic asset serving our entire region for generations to come.

A Place for Ideas

Expand educational programming to serve more students, teachers and families, and cultivate lifelong learning opportunities.

A Place for the Arts

Design a state-of-the-art performance center to recognize Sarasota as a first-choice destination for the most celebrated and acclaimed performers, artists, dancers and musicians.

A Place for You

Enhance the patron experience through contemporary facilities, advanced technology and universal accessibility to support a broad variety of performances and outdoor programming experiences.

Sarasota Performing Arts Center History

The Journey

From first conception to community approval, so much has been accomplished on our journey. Here is a glimpse into the milestone moments on the quest to bring the Sarasota Performing Arts Center to life.

As our history grows, so does the Foundation vision.

Bayfront 20:20 leads vision to reimagine Sarasota's bayfront
Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization formed
City commission approves master plan with new Sarasota Performing Arts Center
Global theater planning and engineering experts assembled
City and County approve tax-increment funding estimated at $100 million for master plan
Positive community feedback from 18,000+ respondents
City Commission approves vision for Sarasota Performing Arts Center
 $284,000 state appropriation for planning
Siting and resiliency study by Studio Gang completed
VW Foundation Board commits first $20M in private philanthropy
Launch fundraising capital campaign
City & Foundation begin to develop co-funding model
City commission unanimously votes to move forward with partnership agreement
Architect selection process begins


Thank You to Our Supporters

Amicus Foundation
Ali and Gloria Bahaj
David and Myrna Band
Gerald and Sondra Biller
Jenne Britell
Boar’s Head Provisions Co., Inc.
Brunckhorst Family
Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Herta Cuneo †
Phil and Julie Delaney
Brian and Caroline Ellerson
Famiglio Family
Gulf Coast Community Foundation
Julie Harris
Holmes Family Fund
Donna and David Koffman
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Hon. Jacqueline Lewis
Ed and Susan Maier
Brenda and Dave Maraman
Martella Family Foundation
William and Elaine McClure
Jonathan and Michelle Mitchell, Edward D. and Anna Mitchell Family Foundation
Richard and Pamela Mones
Karl and Ricky Newkirk
Peter and Joanne Powers
Iris and Marty Rappaport
Michael Saunders and Company
Joel and Diane Schleicher
Paul Seed,
Phil Steyaert
Jim and Susan Travers
Williams Parker Attorneys at Law
Susan and Charles Wilson

Sarasota Performing Arts Center Endorsers

The following organizations have signed a declaration of support to endorse the vision of Sarasota Performing Arts Center, to create a state-of-the-art performing arts center that will be a cultural icon, a civic asset, and a preeminent destination for the performing arts in the nation by offering extraordinary cultural and educational experiences that open a world of new possibilities for all.

Thank you for connecting culture and community, together.

Arts Advocates
Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County
The Bay Park Conservancy
Brain Health Initiative
Choral Artists of Sarasota
Community Foundation of Sarasota County
CreArte Latino
Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association
Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota
Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota
Education Foundation of Sarasota County
Embracing Our Differences
The Festival
Girls, Inc
The Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center
The Haven
Key Choral

Laurel Civic Association
Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce
Manatee County Schools
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Newtown Nation
Parenting Matters
Perlman Music Program
PLANit Sarasota
Resilient Retreat
Ring Sarasota
The Ringling
Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative
Urbanite Theatre
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe


The city’s Climate Adaptation Plan identified the 50-year-old Hall as the city’s most vulnerable structure, sitting in a high-risk flood zone. FEMA compliance codes preclude renovations of the Hall as structural modifications exceed more than 50% of the building’s value. Therefore, a new state-of-the-art center, including technological advances and multiple performance spaces, will be built to provide a competitive advantage to attract world-class artists and serve the community and beyond year-round.

The Hall is owned and operated by the city of Sarasota; the city is establishing a blue-ribbon commission to determine the path forward for the existing Hall.

The existing Hall was built on the bay fostering a relationship with the performing arts and the city. To continue with that cultural history and create a new world-class performing arts center, this site, at the heart of Sarasota’s definitive Bay Park Redevelopment, is the best home for the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center. 

  • 200,000 square-foot venue committed to universal design and accessibility
  • 2,250-seat main stage including center aisle(s)
  • 400-seat flexible performance space
  • Education and lifelong learning spaces including classrooms, rehearsal and community meeting spaces
  • Multiple outdoor public performance spaces
  • National model for advanced technology for health and safety post-pandemic

A parking study commissioned by the city and conducted by Tindale Oliver recommended the need for 1,000 parking spaces to serve the future performing arts center. The Foundation is collaborating with the City and the Bay Park Conservancy to identify a variety of ways to meet this need through a combination of surface parking spaces within the Bay Park, a limited number of spaces beneath the performing arts center, and additional offsite parking locations within walking distance. Shuttle services would be provided to the performing arts center from any offsite parking areas during events and performances. In addition, valet parking and dedicated ride/share services will be available at the new performing arts center.

We are working on requesting proposals from architects to design the performing arts center. Our hope is to have the architect selected by summer 2022. Then there is 24 months of design, followed by 30 months of construction. If fundraising stays on track, we can cut the ribbon on a new performing arts center by the end of 2026.

The Foundation has conducted two Community Engagement Surveys in 2018 and 2020 to gauge the public’s opinion and desires for the future performing arts center. Over 18,000 community members have responded, and their aspirations have shaped our strategic plan.

Additional opportunities will be offered throughout the architect selection process regarding contemporary, sustainable design primed for international acclaim.

Implementation of world-class technological advancements to provide first-rate accommodations for a variety of performance styles, including Broadway, orchestral, choral, dance, movement, and more.
Incorporation of sustainable practices into the design, construction, and maintenance of the new performing arts center.

The new performing arts center will be funded both through private philanthropy, which the Foundation will be responsible for, and public funding, including local, state and federal appropriations.

Current projections of the total project cost are $300-$350 million, this takes into account inflation and cost of materials for 3-5 years. 


Fill out the form below to receive updates and the latest news on the Van Wezel Foundation.