A Message from Mary Bensel, Executive Director of Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

From the Van Wezel Website- I am thinking of you and hope you are all safe and healthy. A huge THANK YOU goes out to the front-line workers and first responders in our resilient community – you are truly our heroes!

Our Education and Community Engagement department has worked to assure quality programs for students, teachers, and families continue. We have worked with the Van Wezel Foundation and launched ArtWorks Anywhere, recorded arts opportunities shared via YouTube. Newly developed Virtual Live Arts Workshops continue to happen at summer camps and will continue this school year, and Virtual Backstage Tours will continue to be offered to student groups. We are proud to provide this free resource to our community and have already received so many kind words about it.

New Happenings at Van Wezel

We plan to launch a new series Cabaret by the Bay in August/September. Guests will enjoy live entertainment experience featuring popular local artists in our Grand Foyer while social distanced. This will feature the gorgeous backdrop of a Sarasota sunset by the bay. Drinks and appetizers provided by Mattison’s will be available for purchase.

We hope to announce Friday Fest for September and October. We continue to monitor the situation and will certainly keep you informed of any updates.

Currently, many shows for 2021 are on single ticket sale and we announced additional shows throughout the summer. This included several holiday shows in December, my favorite time of year. Be sure to join our e-Club to qualify for “early bird” ticket purchases.

We have planned a robust winter season with over 40 shows featured for the 20-21 season. Don’t miss a breathtaking production of Anastasia as it makes its debut this March. As well as other Sarasota premieres including An Officer and Gentleman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Blue Man Group. (Also, you won’t want to miss the Sarasota premiere of Come From Away as it remains a highly-anticipated Broadway spectacular for November 2021.)

As we’ve rescheduled several shows, many of you have held on to your tickets or have chosen to donate the cost of your ticket back to the Hall. This is greatly appreciated as you support the Van Wezel during these very challenging times.

Commitment Moving Forward

Our commitment to you is to present a comprehensive safety plan once we get closer to reopening. Our plan at this time includes using a fogging product for mass disinfecting prior to all performances. Water faucets in the restrooms were already motion-activated, and touchless paper dispensers to replace older versions. We have also added 28 hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility is easily accessible locations. We are also reviewing magnetometers that monitor temperatures as a precautionary tool.

I meet weekly with our fantastic arts partners that include the Sarasota Orchestra, the Sarasota Ballet, the Asolo Theater, the Florida Studio Theatre, and the Sarasota Opera. We are all in this together as we share ideas and best practices for reopening. We continue working with the Arts and Cultural Arts Alliance of Sarasota County and the Van Wezel Foundation and have weekly calls with the Florida Presenters Consortium comprised of the state’s major performing arts centers. I also often speak with our Classical, Broadway, and Pops agents, including Disney and the Broadway League, and with the Americans for the Arts.

We are also hard at work on the 2021-2022 season and 2022-2023 season, which will include an extra special Sarasota premiere!

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your continued support of the Van Wezel, the crown jewel of Sarasota’s arts scene. I would also like to make a special shout out to our loyal sponsors Wilde Lexus and ABC7. We appreciate all you do for us!

I am confident that live performances will come back stronger than ever. I can’t wait for that day and look forward to seeing you all here!

Sincerely,

Mary Bensel

Executive Director

Photo from Van Wezel Website

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2020-07-27