$1.3 Million in Grants Approved

Our Board of Directors approved over $1.3 million in grant awards during its June meeting, including $785,000 in funding for the region’s cornerstone arts and cultural organizations.

We conducted a review of our former Arts Appreciation Grants, which are now rebranded as the Empowering Arts Grant Program aimed to not just appreciate, but to empower the community’s world-class arts and cultural organizations to meet their full potential. “The Empowering Arts Grant Program is a true example of trust-based philanthropy. We cut the administrative red tape for these incredible organizations that serve as the underpinning of our region’s vibrant culture,” said Gulf Coast’s President | CEO Phillip Lanham. “Not only do these organizations enrich our lives, they also serve as a powerful economic force in our region, generating $342,000,000 in economic impact in 2022. Support is needed now more than ever to sustain these economic assets.”

Two people dance on stage, one wearing orange dress. Other people dance behind them.
Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's "Ruby." Photo by Sorcha Augustine.

The 13 Empowering Arts recipients are Asolo Repertory Theatre, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Orchestra, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Opera, Venice Theatre, Circus Arts Conservatory, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Embracing Our Differences, Hermitage Artist Retreat, and Venice Symphony.

Additional grants were approved by our Board to support vital community projects and causes and include:

$50,000 to Friends of The Legacy Trail for the Beneva Road Sidewalk Replacement to connect The Legacy Trail with the Nature Park at Bobby Jones Golf Club, Nathan Benderson Park, and MoteSEA. We have provided strong support for the extension of The Legacy Trail. This grant was supported by the Maria Haber Charitable Fund.

$150,000 to Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Foundation to continue support for the regional workforce development program, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative. In 2023, 461 individuals took part in training resulting in 281 earned industry credentials, 158 raises, and 98 promotions earned by workers. These represent a cumulative increase of workers' earnings of $1,793,626, a total economic impact roughly equivalent to $2.7 million dollars (based on US Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis direct effect multipliers). This grant was supported by Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund and the Ed and Barbara Strobel Fund.

$209,979 to Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties for the third and final installment of Gulf Coast’s $1 million commitment to support the rebuilding of the Gene Matthews Club in North Port destroyed by Hurricane Ian. The new club will provide services to over 500 members annually, plus approximately 300 young people in the summer, and over 250 in the school year. This grant was supported by Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund, the Gould Family Trust Foundation, and the Anna V. Pfister, Nellie Mae Koss and Helen K. Hadden Memorial Endowment Fund.

$70,000 to Education Foundation of Sarasota County for PLANit Sarasota, the local college access network, to support young adults with the resources to enroll in post-secondary education, and to launch an educational navigation program. This grant is supported by Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund and the James M. Maestranzi Charitable Fund.



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