The City of Sarasota Presents the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
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History
 
William Wesley Peters
 
William Wesley Peters  
Renowned for his innovative organic structures, Van Wezel architect William Wesley Peters holds a vital place in the history of 20th Century American architecture.

A chief architect at Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Peters collaborated with Wright for more than a quarter century on projects including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum.

While Wright’s widow, Olgivanna, selected the Van Wezel’s trademark lavender and purple color scheme, Peters envisioned the structure’s seashell form as it related to its function and waterfront locale.

 
An architectural landmark and a cultural treasure, the Van Wezel for more than 37 years has brought to Sarasota and all of Southwest Florida a world of great arts. Built in 1968 and 1969 with monies from a city of Sarasota bond referendum and a bequest from local philanthropists Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel, the Hall is a true pioneer in the cultural development of Florida.

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall presents a broad spectrum of the world's finest performing artists, meeting the diverse needs of all of Southwest Florida's residents and visitors. This season, with the biggest lineup ever, we have carried on the long tradition of presenting spectacular Broadway musicals, top national and international performers, world-class symphony orchestras and a compelling mix of classical, modern and ethnic dance.

The Van WezelIn carrying out the mission of the Hall, we bring visiting artists into the community for a wealth of education and outreach programs. More than 49,000 students from Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Desoto counties are introduced to the performing arts through Van Wezel Schooltime Performances each season. And through our partnership with the Sarasota County School Board and the John F. Kennedy Center Partners in Education program, hundreds of local classroom teachers each season participate in workshops, learning to teach in, through and about the arts.

The Van Wezel also provides a quality "home" for other local cultural organizations that present their programs here.

A Florida Cultural Pioneer
The Van Wezel's seashell design was conceived by William Wesley Peters of Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. This design actually came from two seashells from the Sea of Japan, which are permanently displayed in the Hall. The lavender and purple color scheme selected by Wright's widow, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, has helped to make the building a Sarasota landmark.

The Hall opened Jan. 5, 1970 with a performance of Fiddler on the Roof and has since presented a mixture of theater, music and dance, averaging around 140 performances a year. The 1,736-seat Hall also plays host to many of Sarasota's cultural organizations, including the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Sarasota Concert Association and the Jazz Club of Sarasota. Benefits for many causes have also taken place here. And stars ranging from Bill Cosby to Johnny Cash to Itzhak Perlman have drawn sellout crowds to the Van Wezel in repeat appearances by popular demand.