SARASOTA, FL – After a previous postponement (from November 13th to the 22nd), Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has decided to cancel its fall gala, "Soul in Garden." The event – which was sold out at a limited capacity (for safe social distancing) but available for wider view through livestreaming – will return in 2021. This year's planned Heart & Soul Philanthropy honoree, Marian Moss, will be recognized at the event next year.

WBTT is still rebounding from an outbreak of COVID-19 among the cast and crew of its "Light Up the Night" open-air concerts. Additionally, with virus case numbers sharply increasing throughout the state, the arts organization did not feel it would be safe or responsible to host the event at this time.

"From our collective high in January, with the official closing of our $8.7 million Heart & Soul capital campaign and the opening of our gorgeous new theater, much of this year has been incredibly difficult – just as it has been for businesses and organizations throughout the community," said Julie Leach, executive director for WBTT. "While we had worked to organize our fall fundraiser to ensure maximum safety for guests, artists and staff, our leadership decided it would be prudent to cancel the event and give our team a chance to fully recover before embarking on any other major endeavors."

Even with the significant financial hit the organization has suffered in the wake of the cancellation of the majority of its 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 performance seasons as well as its major fundraisers, WBTT has continued to provide programming in a variety of forms to its patrons, artists and students. The organization has been fortunate to receive a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, numerous foundation grants, and generous donations from community members to keep the organization running and vital, even in these challenging times. The Stage of Discovery summer camp was held virtually this year and numerous presentations have been offered through streaming video. The Jazzlinks outreach education program will be filmed and offered in schools via video this winter as well.

WBTT will be contacting Soul in the Garden live event and livestream ticket-holders by email regarding ticket refunds. For questions, call WBTT at 941-366-1505, ext. 106.