Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to announce that The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation has approved a grant request for approximately $92,000 that will install new canopies on the north and west sides of the WBTT theater building, where presently there are open concrete walkways. This will improve the appearance of the building as well as act as protection from the weather elements for anyone approaching the building or waiting outside before opening, during intermissions and when leaving the building.

“We are so grateful to The Selby Foundation for providing this funding,” replied Board Chair Julie Leach. “Our goal is to have the awnings installed by October 1st, in time for the opening of our first production, Little Shop of Horrors, on Friday, October 17th. We never would have met that goal without the generous support of The Selby Foundation.”

WBTT purchased their 2.5-acre theater campus in 2013 and now own it debt free. A capital campaign is expected to be announced in 2015 but those involved with fund-raising are grateful for any necessities that can be completed beforehand through community grants such as those provided by the Selby Foundation.

Dr. Sarah Pappas, President of The Selby Foundation stated, “We are very excited to begin this journey with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe by providing the financial support needed to purchase and install this awning. The Selby Foundation treasures what WBTT adds to our Sarasota cultural landscape and we want to be a part of their continued success.”

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. (WBTT) was founded in December, 1999, by local actor, singer, director and playwright Nate Jacobs. It is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission of WBTT is to “produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, which attracts diverse audiences while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth.” Throughout the past decade, WBTT has produced many productions locally and around the state of Florida. The company has gained a reputation for high quality, thought-provoking and entertaining performances.

Since its inception, WBTT has mentored and inspired many African-American youth through participation in the company’s productions. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the WBTT performing arts program have gone on to work with national and regional companies. The company has provided a springboard for many national careers including that of Apphia Campbell who most recently has been seen performing her one-woman show, Black is the Color of My Voice, in Sarasota, Shanghai, New York and this summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Teresa Stanley was a featured cast member on Broadway in The Color Purple andpresently stars in Rock of Ages. The two youngest Troupe members, teenagers Chris Eisenberg and Alyssa White, have reached national acclaim; Chris made the top 48 on “America’s Got Talent” and most recently had a singing tour of Boys & Girls Clubs across America. Alyssa was selected to perform in the Harlem Apollo Theater’s Best of the Best show in 2011.

For more information on WBTT, visit the website at www.wbttroupe.org, follow on Facebook or call 941-366-1505.