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News, Updates, and Future Developments of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.


Community Foundation Announces $1 Million Gift Towards New Players Centre for Performing Arts Complex
By Murray Devine / June 12, 2017
Community Foundation Announces $1 Million Gift Towards New Players Centre for Performing Arts Complex

Sarasota, June 9, 2017   The Players Centre for Performing Arts received a $1 million gift toward its new state-of-the-art complex in Lakewood Ranch. The donation is the lead gift since the theatre announced plans last year to sell its current property and move to Lakewood Ranch’s newest village, Waterside, in Sarasota County.

The Muriel O’Neil Fund of the Performing Arts at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County is providing the gift to kick off the theatre’s capital campaign to raise $30 million for the complex. Approximately one-third of the funding will come from the sale of the existing property.

“It takes courage to change a community and we are thrilled that the Board of Directors at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has that courage,” said Michelle Bianchi, Managing Director/CEO of The Players Centre for Performing Arts. “Muriel O’Neil had been a past patron and donor. We are so thankful for the gift as the cornerstone to our capital campaign and discussions are underway for a potential naming opportunity at the new Centre.”

The new Players Centre will feature a 480-seat main stage auditorium with balcony seating, a 125-seat black box theatre, a 100-seat cabaret theatre with dining, and the main campus of The Arnold Simonsen Players Studio which is the education arm of the organization.

“The Players family is excited for this lead gift and we are already making plans to create great theatre in our new home,” said Artistic Director, Jeffery Kin.  “With our upcoming Storytelling Theatre at the Ranch program and our Outdoor Theater at the Polo grounds in the works, we are rapidly building the foundations for many exciting theatrical experiences.” 

“We are thrilled to be a partner in this new chapter of The Players’ long history in Sarasota,” says Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “What an incredible opportunity to honor the legacy and charitable intention of Muriel O’Neil, a donor who cared so much for supporting our region’s theatres and enjoyed many performances at the Players. Aligned with their mission to promote community inclusiveness, this gift will ensure that Muriel’s passion for the performing arts will continue to be shared with all people of our community for years to come.”

“The Players Centre’s move to Lakewood Ranch is a major step toward connecting Sarasota’s Cultural Coast to the fourth best-selling community in the U.S.  With over 600 annual performances and a children’s theatre school, The Players will draw arts and entertainment enthusiasts from around the region. One can envision a theater patron enjoying a great show and then dining and strolling along the lakefront in Waterside Place, the vibrant town center being planned for our new village,” says Rex E. Jensen, President & CEO of Schroeder Manatee Ranch, Inc.

Supporter and founder of The Players Ambassadors Group, Lou Marinaccio says, “Timing is everything and it is time for Lakewood Ranch to enjoy the vibrant productions and artistic impulses brought to us by The Players Centre. I can’t wait to go to the ticket window in Lakewood Ranch and say ‘ticket please’. Way to go Michelle Bianchi and Jeffery Kin for believing in our community.”

The Players Centre for Performing Arts has been the creative home of Sarasota’s amateur theatre artists since 1930.  It continues to provide a unique semi-professional venue for the area’s exceptional volunteer actors to join with professional directors and design teams to share their talents with the local community and with visitors drawn to the area by the city’s artistic climate.  

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Community Foundation of Sarasota County

2635 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota FL 34237
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