Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to support production of Flyin’ West and related community outreach activities

SARASOTA, FL – The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has received a $15,000 Art Works award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help underwrite its 2020 production of Flyin’ West as well as to defray the costs of community outreach activities related to the play.

Just this morning, NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $80 million in grants – including the WBTT award – as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019. Art Works is the NEA’s principal grantmaking program. The agency received 1,592 Art Works applications for this round of grantmaking and will award 977 grants in this category.

“These awards, reaching every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” said Carter. “Organizations such as Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired.”

Flyin’ West by Pearl Cleage, which will close the 2019-2020 season, is a show that WBTT previously offered as a staged reading. In the 1890s, the lives of a small group of African-American women change after they leave the oppressive South and settle in the all-black town of Nicodemus, Kansas. Their hope and determination to survive in a harsh region are tested as they build new lives for themselves and their families. Resident director Chuck Smith will return to Sarasota to direct this show, which runs June 3 - July 12, 2020.

WBTT will take a three-pronged approach to the community outreach activities. First, there will be two free performances of Flyin’ West for students and their families. Next, WBTT will hold a free “WBTT Voices” community discussion about the play. Third, WBTT will provide a hearing assisted performance either with captioning or ASL interpretation.

“We are thrilled to receive this highly competitive award from the NEA,” said Julie Leach, WBTT’s executive director. “We had a wonderful response from the community to our staged reading of Flyin’ West and look forward to presenting the full production – with the NEA’s support – next summer.”

For more about WBTT, go to < or call 941-366-1505.

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:

The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information about WBTT, visit the website at < or call 941-366-1505.