Florida Studio Theatre Starts Construction on Artist Housing

by Jacob Coakley
Florida Studio Theatre will build five townhouses for the artists and interns to use.
Florida Studio Theatre will build five townhouses for the artists and interns to use.

Florida Studio Theatre will build five townhouses as part of its Kretzmer Artist Housing Project. The townhomes will provide 20 bedrooms for FST visiting artists and interns. Ernie Kretzmer, in loving memory of Alisa Kretzmer, contributed the lead gift to this new artist housing. 

Florida Studio Theatre Breaks Ground on Kretzmer Artist Housing Project

(Sarasota, FL) — On October 26, 2016 Florida Studio Theatre officially broke ground on the Kretzmer Artist Housing Project located on Cohen Way in the growing Rosemary District. In its completion, there will be five new townhouses built to help fill the pressing need for quality housing that is safe, accessible, and within close proximity to downtown. 

Florida Studio Theatre currently houses over 100 guest artists and interns a year. These new townhomes will provide a total of 20 bedrooms for FST visiting artists and young theatre professionals participating in the educational internship program. An artist’s comfort at the home translates into a superior performance in the workplace and a higher quality artistic product. 

Ernie Kretzmer, in loving memory of Alisa Kretzmer contributed the lead gift to this new artist housing. Upon reflection of this project, Kretzmer stated, “Florida Studio Theatre has long been my favorite place for contemporary theatre. This artist housing is an important part of the theatre’s impact and I felt this was something very important that I needed to do.” 

Additional contributions to see the completed project were given by individual donors as well as the State of Florida (sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the State of Florida), the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and the Bank of America Client Foundation, Richardson Foundation Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. 

Bank of America Market President, Mike McCoy, shared his thoughts on the broader benefit of this project stating, “This is in a prime location downtown where these artists live and work. Supporting the arts is vital to a healthy business environment and we are very excited to be a part of it. It’s important not only for the arts but also for the community.”

Making her FST debut in this season’s hit Cabaret show Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves, cast member Meredith Jones speaks to the direct impact of this project, “It's been wonderful for me to experience the outreach of the community here in Sarasota and how involved they are with FST. As a newcomer to the theatre, it's been a pleasure to see the contributions people have made to help make the housing, for artists like myself, so comfortable and safe. It's a contribution that doesn't go unnoticed and we are very grateful!” 

Audience favorite, Ali Reed, recently seen in Laughing Matters (Vol. 5) Lock the Gates!, further comments. “Being away from family, friends, and our own homes is always hard, but feeling safe and comfortable in my housing here has made it a much easier transition. Being in Sarasota can feel like paradise and having a relaxing home to spend my time in, makes it that much sweeter.”

During the ground breaking ceremony, FST’s Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins shared his gratitude and excitement for this exciting new venture. “It’s significant to see these businesses and organizations coming together particularly after the recent recession,” said Hopkins. “I want to give heartfelt thank you to Ernie and Alisa for their support. They truly understand the value of art in our community. We are grateful to each and every one of our supporters. Art is what makes this a great community to raise children and an even better community to raise adults in. With sincere gratitude, I say thank you all.”

About Florida Studio Theatre

Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.  

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience.  FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world.  As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.