Manatee Players raise $1.75 million toward new theater in Bradenton

Manatee Community Foundation and Kiwanis Club of Bradenton make major contributions

wtatangelo@bradenton.comMarch 20, 2012 

BRADENTON -- This time next year, a production of the large-scale, special effects musical "Miss Saigon" should be staged at the Manatee Performing Arts Center.

To make that happen, the Manatee Players need to raise $1.4 million in seven months -- a much smaller amount than recently anticipated.

On Tuesday afternoon, outside the Bradenton community theater troupe's new facility, it was announced the group had $1.75 million toward the completion of its capital campaign.

Pending signed agreements, an anonymous donor to the Manatee Players and fund-holder at the The Manatee Community Foundation is making a $1.5 million "program-related investment" in the Manatee Performing Arts Center.

The investment is a loan against future pledges raised by the Manatee Players so that construction on the new venue can be completed by next March.

The Manatee Community Foundation also has assembled $100,000 that will be used to provide additional matches to contributions given to the Manatee Players during the "The 36-Hour Giving Challenge-Where Community Meets Philanthropy." The online fundraiser at www.givingpartnerchallenge.org. starts at 6 a.m. March 27 and runs through 6 p.m. March 28 at 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday's news conference concluded with the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton presenting the Manatee Players with an oversized check for $250,000.

The Manatee Performing Arts Center seats 380 in its main room while only 238 people fit inside the Bradenton company's cramped Riverfront Theatre on Old Main Street.

Building plans for the new facility have embraced the need for more community meeting rooms, a concert rental center and banquet facilities equipped with a catering kitchen.

The educational wing of the theatre located on the second floor is designed for both traditional classroom instruction and performance-based classes.

"We are a world-class company that needs a world-class place to be," said Rick Kerby, the managing artistic director of the Manatee Players.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

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