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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2015 5 years ago

Sarasota Ballet receives gift for new rehearsal studio space

Given by local philanthropist Ernie Kretzmer in honor of his late wife Alisa, the gift kickstarts the ballet's $2.5 million fundraising campaign
by: Nick Reichert Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Sarasota Ballet has another reason to celebrate as the company enters its 25th anniversary season. Local philanthropist and longtime supporter and patron of the ballet Ernie Kretzmer has given a major gift to the ballet that will lead its current $2.5 million fundraising campaign. The gift goes toward the construction of a brand new rehearsal and studio space for the ballet and visiting dancers. Kretzmer's gift and the studio is in honor of and dedicated to the memory of his late wife Alisa. 

"Mr. and Mrs. Kretzmer have been so incredibly supportive over the years and they always believed in my vision for the company," says Iain Webb, director of the Sarasota Ballet. "I can think of no better tribute to Alisa than to provide a space where history is preserved and new ballets are captured in the hearts and minds of the next generation of dancers. We all miss Alisa dearly."

The new rehearsal space, titled The Ernie and Alisa Kretzmer Sarasota Ballet Studios, will be a two-level studio space with a front facade made entirely of glass so that passersby can watch visiting dancers and the company rehearse. The location of the new studio will be announced at a later date. But with its home offices at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts and an auxiliary educational space on Tallevast Road, the new space will expand the ballet's reach into the Sarasota community. 

The gift was facilitated by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation from the couple's charitable foundation. The gift and the company's subsequent $2.5 million fundraising campaign will go toward elevating the ballet's already high status in the dancing world. Webb plans on producing increasingly challenging ballets as the company continues its rise, and he says that the new space will allow the company to create new works and accommodate visiting artists and organizations. The ballet currently only has one dedicated rehearsal space located behind the Mertz Theatre, which is shared between the ballet and the Asolo Repertory Theatre. 

"The Sarasota Ballet is grateful for the investment Mr. Kretzmer is making for our future,” says Mary Anne Servian, managing director of the Sarasota Ballet. “His commitment to philanthropy and our community is humbling. It gives us great comfort knowing Ernie is by our side as we embark on the next chapter of our journey.”

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