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WBTT to host inaugural Juneteenth Arts Festival

Raleigh Mosely II, Ariel Blue and Derric Gobourne Jr. will perform as RAD during WBTT’s Juneteenth Arts Festival.
Raleigh Mosely II, Ariel Blue and Derric Gobourne Jr. will perform as RAD during WBTT’s Juneteenth Arts Festival.
Courtesy photo
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Juneteenth celebrations in Sarasota are expanding this year with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's inaugural Juneteenth Arts Festival.

WBTT and other organizations have held Juneteenth events in the past, but nothing of this magnitude, says WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs.

Juneteenth, the U.S. holiday commemorating the day all enslaved Black Americans were freed, is all about joy, but there is an educational aspect to WBTT's Juneteenth Arts Festival too, Jacobs says.

"We want to invite the community to help celebrate an extremely important date African American history. We have planned educational, fun-filled activities for the entire community," Jacobs says.

Two highlights of the festival, which will take place at WBTT, 1012 N. Orange Ave., are a performance of musical group RAD and screenings of the golf-themed feature film "Playing Through." Screenings will be held in WBTT's air-conditioned Donelly Theatre.

RAD members Raleigh Mosely II, Ariel Blue and Derric Gobourne Jr., who each have their own artistic careers, have been making a name for themselves around town with their concerts of soul and R&B hits. RAD will be one of several performers on an all-day outdoor stage for spoken word and live music, which will also feature students from Ringling College of Art and Design.

The movie "Playing Through" holds a special place in the hearts of WBTT staff and artists because of their intimate involvement in the production. Much of the filming took place at the Laurel Oak Country Club and other locations in Sarasota.

Written by Curtis Jordon and directed by Balbinka Korzeniowska, "Playing Through" tells the story of Ann Gregory, the first Black female golfer to play in a U.S. Golf Association tournament.

Jacobs says the Arts Festival has the capacity to serve about 500 guests, between the Donnelly Theatre and seating in front of the outdoor stage and in shaded areas. There also will be food trucks on site. Preparations have been made for a hot and sunny day and for guests of all ages, Jacobs says.



Monica Roman Gagnier

Monica Roman Gagnier is the arts and entertainment editor of the Observer. Previously, she covered A&E in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the Albuquerque Journal and film for industry trade publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

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