Grant of $250,000 will help to turn 'Binz Building' into headquarters for education and outreach efforts 

SARASOTA, FL – The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation has recently approved a grant of $250,000 to the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) in support of its "Heart & Soul" capital campaign. The fundraising effort, which has a goal of $6 million, will transform the organization's 2.5-acre, two-building campus at 10th Street and Orange Avenue into a cohesive, state-of-the-art performing arts center, enable the organization to more fully develop its education program, and create an endowment fund for the future of the troupe.

The Selby Foundation's grant will help to renovate the building on the front of the campus, called the "Binz Building," which will become the headquarters for WBTT's administrative offices and education and outreach programs. The building will include a first-floor education wing; a 4,000-square-foot space that will mainly function as three multi-purpose education rooms but can also transform into an event space with a capacity of up to 200 dining guests for theatre or private functions; a second floor with weekday box office, conference room, and administrative offices; a library; and a 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden terrace event space for patrons and other community organizations.

To show its gratitude for the generous funding, WBTT will name the second floor of the building "The William G. & Marie Selby Foundation Administrative Wing."

“Our board was very impressed with the large number of community partners who also contributed to this project,” said Dr. Sarah Pappas, president of the Selby Foundation. “We continue to be inspired by the cultural diversity that the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has added to our incredible arts community and are happy to support its education and outreach program with this grant.”

Mentoring young artists has always been at the core of WBTT's mission. Currently, in addition to providing a stage for rising talents in its productions, the organization offers the “Young Artists Program,” through which Troupe members are able to showcase their talents with one-night, one-person shows; the “Jazzlinks” program, which brings history lessons to life for area 11th graders; the "New Playwrights Series," which offers emerging minority playwrights the opportunity to present their new, developing plays in a workshop setting; and the "Stage of Discovery" summer musical theater program for teens.

"We are honored and grateful that the Selby Foundation has chosen to support our efforts to nurture and develop the next generation of minority artists, and we are so grateful to all the generous individuals, corporate partners, and foundations that believe in our vision and are helping to make it a reality,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach.

The Selby Foundation specializes in supporting area nonprofits with capital grants, which support the construction, acquisition and/or renovation of facilities, as well as the purchase of equipment or software. Projects focusing on education, human services, arts and community projects including history, science, and/or the environment are given top priority.

Currently, the Heart & Soul campaign has reached $3.9 million; the community is invited to be a part of the effort. For more information, call (941) 366-1505 or go to

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission 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 on WBTT, visit the website at or call (941) 366-1505.