Built in 1968 with funds from a city bond referendum and a bequest from philanthropists Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel, the Van Wezel opened its doors in 1970 with a production of Fiddler on the Roof. Since then, the Hall has welcomed a broad range of performers and shows, including world-class symphonies, both classical and modern dance companies, jazz artists, pop legends, Comedy and Broadway.
The Van Wezel's educational and outreach programs have also touched the community, reaching out to everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the Sarasota County School Board are members of the prestigious Performing Arts Centers and Schools: Partners in Education Program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This partnership provides professional development workshops for teachers.
With its renovation in 2000, the Hall contains 25,000 more square feet than before, meaning larger lobbies and Grand Foyer, more restrooms, a new stagehouse, the latest in sound and lighting systems, and an Education Center. The 1,736-seat Hall is completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and is owned and operated by the City of Sarasota.
The 6,000 square foot Grand Foyer comfortably seats 35-350, and opens onto the Terrace and Bayfront lawn accommodating an additional 1500. Smaller groups will enjoy the Selby Education Center, Founders Lounge and Greenroom with seating for up to 30 in small groups or breakout sessions. Click here for rental information.