Grantee Feature: Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL

Founded in 1973, Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is a professional regional theatre located in downtown Sarasota and has grown to serve more than 230,000 live attendees each year. The largest subscription theatre in the state, FST has six core programs: Mainstage, Cabaret, Stage III, Children’s Theatre, Education, and New Play Development. 

As Florida Studio Theatre was forced to close its five stages on March 15, FST is now down to a crew of about 30 people. Still, the theatre is moving forward, and is readily preparing to reopen in early 2021. In the meantime, Sarasota’s acclaimed contemporary theatre is continuing to find new ways to serve its loyal audience.

Michael Grieve and Heather Michele Lawler in NNPN Women in Playwriting Festival workshop performance of The Forest by Lia Romeo. Photo by Sarah Haley.


Over the past seven months, FST has increased its investment in New Play Development. With funding assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program, FST launched a new artistic initiative: The Playwrights Project.

Development session of a new play by Jacqueline Goldfinger. Photo by Sarah Haley.
Playwright Collective Members Rachel Lynett, Jacqueline Goldfinger, and Mark St. Germain. Photo by Sarah Haley.

The Project employed 33 playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers as full-time staff writers for eight weeks, each creating new work that will be considered for future production on FST’s stages.

But the creative process did not stop when the Project came to a close in mid-June.

Several Project artists have gone on to join FST’s Playwright Collective, a brain-trust of top tier playwrights from across the country, working closely with FST’s artistic staff to develop new work for the FST stage. More than a dozen new plays are currently in process and headed for Mainstage production.


One of the most significant ways that FST has been able to serve the community is through The FST School. Since May, students from as far as California, Connecticut, and Mexico have explored Acting, Theatre Writing, and Improvisation without leaving the comfort of home, thanks to FST’s new online classes.

Alexa Doggett leads a virtual movement class. Photo by Sarah Haley.

“I almost didn’t sign up, as I feared my creativity had been buried under the weight of the present day,” said past student Kate H. “But I’m glad I did. I spent this morning writing, instead of being glued to the news cycle.”

Minita Gandhi in NNPN Women in Playwriting Festival workshop performance of MUTHALAND by Minita Gandhi. Photo by Sarah Haley.

“My daughter has always had a knack for performing arts, but has had a hard time overcoming her shyness,” shared FST School parent Shaina N. “Since she started taking classes at FST, I’ve noticed an immense improvement in her confidence!”

Kate Alexander and Josh Ford lead virtual summer camp. Photo by Sarah Haley.

Also, in order to serve those who are doing so much to serve us, The FST School has expanded its scholarship program to include teachers, front-line workers, and their families as well.


Logo for Arts Power’s Chicken dance. Photo from Arts Power.

FST is partnering with another Sarasota arts organization, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, to inspire young audiences through theatre with new virtual programming!

Logo for Arts Power’s Anne of Green Gables. Photo from Arts Power.

Instead of traveling within classes to FST and the Van Wezel to experience the magic of live theatre, elementary schools will have free access to two online musicals adapted from beloved children’s books: Chicken Dance and Anne of Green Gables.

In addition to these two streamed online musicals, FST is offering an interactive, virtual adaptation of its award-winning, arts-in-education initiative, WRITE A PLAY, to area schools entirely free of charge.

Now in its 30th year, FST’s WRITE A PLAY program gives students the example, tools, and inspiration to write plays of their very own.

Denee Lortz leads a playwriting workshop as part of FST’s WRITE A PLAY program at Holy Name School in Camden, NJ. Photo by Caroline Kaiser.

Although just the ghost lights remain on in FST’s five stages, we know that this is only “intermission”. The curtain will rise again. And when it does, we can’t wait to see you there.

The Division thanks Florida Studio Theatre for their participation in this feature!

For more info about FST and their programs, be sure to visit their website at, and on social media: Twitter at @FSTSarasota, and Facebook and other platforms at @floridastudiotheatre!

Grantee Feature: Art and Culture Center/Hollywood’s 2020 Summer Exhibit and Camp

The Art and Culture Center/Hollywood presents contemporary gallery exhibitions, live stage performances, and award-winning education programs in the visual and performing arts at three unique facilities in downtown Hollywood. The Center’s mission is to cultivate creativity and the support of the arts in our community through education, innovation and collaboration.

A special message from Art and Culture Center/Hollywood’s Executive Director, Joy Satterlee:

“As the Art & Culture Center/Hollywood continues to adapt to the ever-changing conditions and difficult times created by Covid-19, it’s been extremely challenging but we – staff and Board members – are gratified that we are able to serve our community by adapting our exhibitions and programs.

Time to Play Exhibition, Chris Bogia. (Photo credit Khami Auerbach)

On June 6, we opened our family-friendly summer exhibition Time to Play in our contemporary galleries, featuring works by eight national and South Florida artists. We adapted and revamped the exhibition to remove all the “high touch” and interactive components as well as implemented a series of safety protocols for visitors such as providing sanitation stations throughout the gallery, requiring all attendees to wear a face coverings and incorporating additional cleaning and sanitizing procedures by staff.

Time to Play Exhibition – Jen Clay (Photo credit Leo Sarmiento)

For this exhibition, our Curator Meaghan Kent created a series of stimulating art-making activities that are printed in the exhibit brochure for gallery and at-home play. Time to Play will remain on exhibit through Aug. 16.  We are pleased we are able to re-open our galleries at 50 percent capacity, although we miss the groups who usually visit during the summer.  

Art and Culture Center/Hollywood 2020 Summer Arts Camp

On June 15, we began our 2020 Summer Arts Camp for our Broadway Actors, Young Actors and Young Artists campers. We have greatly reduced our enrollment capacity to keep with CDC protocols (8 youth per camp). Additionally, we are requiring our campers, teachers and staff to wear face coverings plus maintaining strict and regular disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and shared equipment. We also take staff, teachers and campers temperatures daily and monitor symptoms.

Summer Arts Camp – Young Artists (Ages 6-12) – (Photo credit Khami Auerbach)

We have had very positive feedback from our camp families on all of the protocols we have implemented.  Due to a number of reasons, we cancelled our summer camp for ages to 4 to 5 years old. We also have adapted our Arts Aspire leadership development program so it, too, can take place this summer.

Summer Arts Camp – Young Actors (Ages 6-12) – (Photo credit Khami Auerbach)

In addition, we are eagerly waiting to hear how Broward County Schools will structure the 2020/2021 school day so we may create and implement curricular and after-school programs for children and youth.

Summer Arts Camp – Young Actors (Ages 6-12) – (Photo credit Khami Auerbach)

The 500-seat Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, which we manage, has been closed since March 17, and we are presently working with Broward County Schools to re-open this facility. Our current youth programs have been relocated and no other entities may rent/utilize our theater until we receive approval for individuals to be present at our theater. We have created re-opening guidelines and will be submitting these for the Broward County Administrator’s approval. We look forward to the theater reopening as quickly as possible — of course, in a safe manner.

The Art and Culture Center/Hollywood hosts a small virtual group lesson.

The re-opening of our programs and facilities, along with the return of staff to our administrative offices, has been a welcome change after being closed since March 16 for a total of 81 days. While schools and business were closed, we added online classes and virtual gallery tours to our website and social media platforms to serve and engage our constituents.  

We realize that many other arts organizations are not open to the public and are also being creative by virtually engaging audiences. We look forward to having our entire arts community return to doing the work that enriches the lives of residents and visitors throughout South Florida and our State.”

We would like to thank Joy Satterlee and Art and Culture Center/Hollywood for giving us an update on the Center’s recent activities, and for the important work they do for the arts in their community.

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