Following the presentation of Dance Theatre of Harlem by The Sarasota Ballet recently, The Sarasota Ballet offered a special, complimentary matinee performance that was specific in welcoming those who may not have the opportunity to experience live dance.
TSB’s outreach program, Dance For All collaborated with Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative led by Michele Redwine, and Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition (SAACC) led by Vickie Oldham, to provide over 450 complimentary tickets reaching more than 35 community partners.
The entire weekend was another example of The Sarasota Ballet’s continued commitment to community engagement. Seeing the Mertz Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts filled with so much diversity was not only exciting, but crucial for everyone to realize the importance that the arts make in communities every day.
Community audience members stretched from age 5, who were seeing their first live dance performance, to a Birthday Club whose members were celebrating 80+ years young. In addition to the performance, Artistic Director and founding member of Dance Theatre of Harlem, Virginia Johnson spoke to the audience and community partners during the event with a crucial message, “There’s a commonality that we all need to plug into and I feel like the arts are the thing that brings people together.”
The Sarasota Ballet has been at the forefront of community engagement in Sarasota since the inception of Dance – The Next Generation, founded by Jean Weidner Goldstein over 30 years ago.
With the completion of The Sarasota Ballet’s 2020 Strategic Plan, TSB Board and Executive Leadership identified the need to unify and expand its already numerous community engagement programs with goals of building long-term relationships with community partners and invested audiences. One of their six-pillar programs offers deeply discounted or complimentary tickets to The Sarasota Ballet Season performances, providing access for people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the beauty of dance.
Since the start of this new year alone, The Sarasota Ballet’s significant impact and commitment to the community has already resulted in over 700 tickets to community partners through Dance For All – with every ticket an opportunity to reach someone who has never had access to this incredible art form before.
The Sarasota Ballet’s program Dance for All is sponsored by a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
See this story as it originally appeared in SRQ Magazine online on March 15, 2023.