Funds will enable national theater festival leader to enjoy
WBTT’s 15th anniversary celebration, Sarasota’s cultural offerings

(SARASOTA, FL – SEPT. 24, 2014) Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) received a grant of approximately $2,000 from Visit Sarasota County to fund the travels of National Black Theatre Festival director Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin to Sarasota for WBTT’s 15th Anniversary Celebration on October 6.

“Visit Sarasota County is pleased to be able to provide assistance with bringing media, critics and industry leaders and influencers like Sylvia Hamlin to Sarasota County to experience first-hand the amazing and diverse arts and culture offerings Sarasota County has to offer,” said Visit Sarasota County managing director Stephanie Grosskreutz. “We are thrilled to share the excitement of WBTT and its anniversary event in our promotion of Sarasota County arts.”

The grant covers Sprinkle-Hamlin’s travel expenses and accommodations, and access to a number of arts and cultural offerings during her stay. Her appearance here is particularly appropriate as the featured performer during WBTT’s event, Chester Gregory, was discovered by WBTT representatives during his performance at the National Black Theatre Festival the summer of 2013.

“We are grateful to Visit Sarasota County for helping to make Sylvia’s visit here during our milestone celebration possible,” said WBTT executive director Richard M. Parison, Jr. “It is an honor to host a history maker like Sylvia, whose leadership in organizations such as the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, National Black Theatre Festival and numerous nonprofit organizations has helped to educate and empower new generations of African American artists.”

The anniversary celebration, which will spotlight WBTT performers and features the production of “The Eve of Jackie,” starring award-winning Broadway performer Gregory, takes place on Monday, October 6th, 8:00 pm at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (777 N. Tamiami Tr., Sarasota).

"WBTT extends our most heartfelt appreciation to Visit Sarasota County for sponsoring us with a grant to host Sylvia at our 15th Anniversary Celebration," said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. "The National Black Theatre Festival attracts over 70,000 patrons at its bi-annual event; we are honored to have a prestigious visitor like Sylvia as our special guest!"

Lead sponsor for the evening is Tervis. Co-chairs are Audrey Coleman and Julie Leach, who also serves as WBTT Board President. Tickets for this one-night only celebration range from $35 to $75, and are being sold through the Van Wezel box office. Call the box office at (941) 953-3368 or go online

To date, more than $180,000 in sponsorships has been pledged in support of this event. Major sponsors are Tervis, Sarasota Magazine, Frank and Jaclyn Brunckhorst, Sy and Shelley Goldblatt, Donald and Doris Johnson, Brock and Julie Leach, Mary Ann Robinson, the Welch Foundation, Zabelle-C.L.C. Kramer Foundation, Boars Head and AT&T.


About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. (WBTT) is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. Its mission is to produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience and attract diverse audiences, while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information, visit or call (941) 366-1505.