Two of The Friendly City’s most venerated organizations want to join forces.
The Kiwanis Club of Bradenton voted today to submit a letter of intent to the Manatee Players’ Board of Directors outlining a completion plan for the Manatee Performing Art Center’s second floor. The service club intends to sell its home since 1953, Kiwanis Hall, 1401 21st Ave. W., Bradenton, and donate the proceeds -- as much as $1.1 million -- to the community theater troupe. This would finance the upper level of the multi-use venue being built near the Bradenton Riverwalk.
The second floor would include classroom space, a sewing room, costume storage, rehearsal space, a catering kitchen as well as a meeting or conference room tentatively called The Kiwanis Club of Bradenton Meeting Wing.
“Our club has always been known as the downtown club, and we feel this gives us an opportunity to be intimately involved with the exciting things happening in downtown Bradenton and take a leadership position, as we have done through the history of our club in the completion of big ideas,” said John Vita a member of the Kiwanis Club's board of directors.
Among the contingencies of the proposal for the new home of the Manatee Players, which the community theater troupe hopes to have ready for a production of “Miss Saigon” next March, would be approval by the city of Bradenton.
Endorsements from the Bradenton Riverfront Partners and the community’s financial commitment are also required to open the current phase of construction.
About three months ago, the Kiwanis Club presented the Manatee Players with a check for $250,000.
Monday, the county Tourist Development Council voted to recommend a $250,000 matching grant for the center financed with an overage accrued from bed taxes during a successful winter tourist season.
The Manatee County Commission must still approve its recommendation.
The goal of the Manatee Players Capital Campaign is about $15 million, but the facility could operate at $12 million; with the $250,000 grant and a match, the theater troupe would be about $600,000 or $700,000 short of being operational, said Janene Witham, executive director of the Manatee Players.
The Manatee Performing Arts Center will seat 380 in its main room, Cora May Stone Hall.