Local Philanthropist & Longtime Van Wezel Foundation Supporter Kicks Off Private Philanthropy Campaign for New Performing Arts Center

Phil & Jim

SARASOTA, Tuesday, May 24, 2022 – The Van Wezel Foundation received a generous $1-million gift from local philanthropist and longtime Van Wezel Foundation supporter Phil Steyaert.

“On behalf of the Foundation and its board, I am incredibly honored to accept this meaningful gift from Phil Steyaert, a longtime champion of the Foundation and its mission,” said Jim Travers, Foundation board chair. “His generous gift, officially kicks off the private philanthropy campaign for the Sarasota Performing Arts Center, a legacy project that will have a lasting impact for generations to come.”

Steyaert’s $1-million gift was inspired in response to the board’s $20-million commitment, which was announced in January at the Foundation’s annual Inspiration Gala.

“The performing arts is so important to me – the warm feeling I get from being there, the excitement,” said Steyaert. “That is why I decided to help kick off the private philanthropy campaign for the new performing arts center with this gift, and with the hope that other art and performance enthusiasts will join me in supporting this transformative project for our region.”

After relocating to Sarasota in 2005, Steyaert was immediately drawn to the performing arts at the Hall. As a former musician, he has been committed to sharing the arts by donating to the Foundation annually to advance its mission of creating and sustaining a vibrant performing arts center, advancing education, and enriching communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts. Steyaert has witnessed the growth within the community first-hand, citing the need for a new performing arts center to accommodate the evolution and progress of the area.

“Our Sarasota community has grown but our space for the performing arts has not,” said Steyaert. “There are so many people that enjoy going, and we can give more people the opportunity to go – many for the first time – when we build the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center. A larger and more contemporary venue for performances needs to be built.”

“Phil has a deep passion for the Foundation’s mission and helping it grow so children and others in our community can share in and experience the power of the performing arts,” said Foundation CEO Cheryl Mendelson. “We are grateful for Phil’s ongoing commitment to the Foundation and for this generous gift to support the new performing arts center.”

For more information about the Sarasota Performing Arts Center, visit vwfoundation.org/SPAC.


The Van Wezel Foundation’s mission is to create and sustain a vibrant performing arts center, advance education, and enrich communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts. The Foundation has partnered with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall since 1987 to support arts education throughout our region, serving more than 50,000 students and their families annually with enriching arts-based education opportunities and professional development for more than 400 teachers across five counties. The Van Wezel Foundation is leading the vision to build a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center as a public-private partnership with the city, and in collaboration with the Bay Park Conservancy and Van Wezel Hall. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit vwfoundation.org/SPAC. For more information on the Foundation and its mission, visit vwfoundation.org, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.

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