- February 27, 2017
2015 has been a year of celebration and transformation for Florida Studio Theatre. With a dynamic 2014-2015 season that saw critically lauded and popular productions of "Hairspray," "Dancing Lessons," "Fly" and "American Pie" and ongoing summer construction and renovation on FST's oldest space the Keating Theatre, Palm Avenue and 1st Street, the regional theater has plenty of momentum as it enters its 42nd season. There's even more to rejoice with the arrival of an impactful donation that will allow FST to continue on its upward trajectory.
Local arts advocate and philanthropist Ernie Kretzmer has donated $500,000 toward the construction of FST's Rosemary Artist Housing Project. The housing initiative will expand the theater's ability to house guests artists by providing 20 new bedrooms in five new townhouses to be built on Cohen Way in the Rosemary District. This gift will allow the theater to start construction on the project, which is scheduled to break ground in early 2016.
Kretzmer, who has been a Sarasota resident for over 25 years, has been an avid supporter of the Sarasota arts community. A patron and supporter of the Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Ballet and Sarasota Opera, he recently donated a sizable gift earlier this month to the ballet in order to build the company a brand new two-story rehearsal studio.
With a year-long winter and summer main stage and cabaret seasons, FST invites and houses over 100 guest artists and theater apprentices each year. Additional artist housing was a necessity in continuing the theater's creative growth.
"The need for this project has become more and more urgent as our theatre continues to grow and expand," says Richard Hopkins, producing artistic director of FST. "Florida Studio Theatre is now a five-theater operation that reaches over 200,000 people a year. With this level of growth, it is crucial to have the support of the community and generous philanthropic hearts like Ernie Kretzmer."