Private funding for a proposed Sarasota Performing Arts Center has received a $10 million boost from a relative newcomer to the area.
The gift from Canadian businessman Paul Seed, who in 2021 purchased a seasonal home on Longboat Key, is earmarked to support the architecture and design team that will be selected this spring.
The contribution comes courtesy of the Paul Seed Fund at KTB Canada Foundation. Seed founded StarTech.com in 1985, an Ontario company specializing in connectivity accessories for IT professionals. An amateur musician, he has developed relationships with local musicians who have played at some of his backyard parties.
Seed also sought out opportunities to engage with the city’s performing arts community, regularly attending music performances at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Now, he wants to give back to the arts community and the future of performing arts in Sarasota.
"Paul is a role model by believing and investing in making a major philanthropic inspirational gift," said SPAC Foundation Board Chairman Jim Travers. “We are deeply grateful for Paul's vision and generous commitment to our community and the Foundation's mission to build a new performing arts center on the bay.”
Design of a new SPAC is included in the projected overall cost of $275 million. The SPAC Foundation has committed to raise 50% of the capital cost, to be matched by a combination of public grants, penny sales tax revenue and bay front district tax increment financing revenue.
The proposed SPAC is a centerpiece of The Bay, which is being developed and managed by the Bay Park Conservancy. The architect selection process to design the new performing arts center is currently underway, using an open public procurement process with community engagement and collaboration.
Of the 43 architecture firms that submitted qualifications to design the SPAC, 18 have been invited to submit proposals. The search is being conducted by a task force appointed by the city and by the SPAC Foundation. The process has entered the third stage of the search, which will narrow the field to three finalists in March.
The winning firm is scheduled to be selected in April.