Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s educational program to expand, thanks to $100,000 grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation

WBTT committed to arts education utilizing its ‘authentic voice to celebrate Black achievements, history and culture’

Students from WBTT’s Stage of Discovery program perform in the 2020 show The Technicolor Musical.
Contributed photo by Sorcha Augustine, courtesy of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

In addition to presenting high-quality professional productions and plentiful artistic opportunities for artists of color, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) of Sarasota “is committed to arts education that utilizes the organization’s authentic voice to celebrate Black achievements, history and culture,” a news release points out.

While its educational outreach efforts “have grown organically over the past six years,” a $100,000 investment by the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation “will seed significant growth” of the Troupe’s initiatives for youth and adults, the release adds.

“These funds will support Jazzlinks, which brings history lessons to life for area high school students; Stage of Discovery, a free summer musical theatre camp serving minority students; Rhythm & Tales, which offers important life lessons for elementary students through musical fables; the WBTT Voices free community forums; and staged play readings,” the release says.

“This grant effectively doubles WBTT’s budget for educational programs while covering guest artists’ fees for new after-school programming,” the release adds. WBTT also is planning to expand its adult educational initiatives to include dance, acting and playwriting lessons, the release notes. WBTT’s new education director/artistic associate, Jim Weaver, is overseeing and implementing current and expanded educational programs, the release points out.

“We are so grateful to the Barancik Foundation for this investment, which will enable us to increase our reach, capacity and impact,” said Julie Leach, executive director of WBTT, in the release. “Not only does this grant affirm our place in and objectives with regard to the local arts education realm, it also ensures the continued growth and stability of our education programs, so that we can better serve the community for years to come.”

Recent funding of $2.4 million from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation “creates workforce pipelines, supports health equity efforts, and boosts work to promote diversity, equity and access through the arts,” the release notes.

“This funding will strengthen the organization’s educational outreach at a time when inclusive and integrated arts experiences are so critical,” says Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of the Barancik Foundation, in the release. “We hope others join us in this support for a treasure of our community.”

For more about WBTT or to learn how to support its educational programs, call Debra Flynt-Garrett at 941-366-1505, Ext. 106; email dfgarrett@westcoastblacktheatre.org, or visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.