The City of Sarasota Presents the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
(800) 826-9303 | (941) 953-3368
Events Calendar
Box OfficeHall InfoEducationPress RoomGet InvolvedSarasota
Other Educational Programs

For the past two seasons, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has participated in the Kennedy Center’s partnership program with VSA, Very Special Arts, an international organization devoted to providing arts opportunities for people with disabilities. This program has enabled the Van Wezel to broaden utilization of its existing accessibility facilities for patrons with physical challenges and to provide opportunities for students at Oak Park School, Sarasota’s magnet school for students with disabilities, ages 3-22, to participate in the Schooltime student matinee performances free of charge. Also included in the program are resident Teacher Artists recruited by the Van Wezel to provide arts education and projects for students at Oak Park School. Several hundred students have been served over the past two seasons, and both students and teachers have expressed their appreciation for these opportunities. In 2015-2016 the Van Wezel is thrilled continue serving students with disabilities through in depth arts workshops and access to Schooltime Performances!

Through Arts Access for Kids, Oak Park students and students with disabilities from other schools will attend at least one Van Wezel Schooltime Performance and complete preshow activities with teachers, Van Wezel teaching artists and/or staff. At least 300 students will participate in this season alone!

This programs are provided under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

DURING THE 2015-2016 SEASON THE VAN WEZEL WILL CONTINUE ITS PARTENRSHIP BETWEEN OAK PARK SCHOOL AND LAKEVIEW ELEMENTARY! Through the program, students students with disabilites will have the opportunity to interact with their peers from a neighboring elmentary school.  The two schools will again attend a shared Schooltime Performance, and participate in a shared arts based activity to foster dialogue, creativity, and an understanding of their peers.

Total Access is a program designed to provide local families with young children the opportunity to experience several live performances at the Van Wezel over the course of the season free of charge. Families facing financial challenges are recruited by our community partners, e.g., Boys & Girls Clubs and Laurel Civic Association, based on questionnaires completed by parents and children expressing their desire to make a commitment to participate in the program for one year. Families select their shows at the beginning of the season, much like the Van Wezel’s many dedicated subscribers, and pick their tickets up on the night of the show. Total Access also includes pre-show dinners for families provided by Mattison’s Bayside at the Van Wezel, which make each of the performance evenings a memorable family event. The Van Wezel is particularly interested in families with children who are interested in pursuing the arts, in order to provide encouragement for them to follow their dreams. After each show, families are required to complete and return a family survey to help us measure the impact of the program. Comments from parents have been extremely positive and heartwarming, and the Van Wezel is very grateful to our partners and supporters that so many children have been able to participate. Total Access to the Arts has been generously supported by the Cordelia Lee Beattie Foundation since 2010.


Military Access is a new program building on the success of the Van Wezel’s Total and Senior Access programs. Military Access honors current and past members of our military and provides opportunities for a therapeutic and engaging experience.

Military Access shows appreciation and enhances well-being by giving Veterans, Active Military, their families the experience of attending a professional live performance at no cost to them.

The Van Wezel partners with organizations serving these individuals to identify and register participants.

Benefits of the program include:

1. Recognizing and honoring the sacrifices made by veterans and families of active military and honoring them through a special opportunity;
2. Creating special family memories of experiencing the arts, which allow for increased family communication and well-being;
3. Increasing the sense of pride and improving quality of life of veterans;
4. Providing one-in-a-lifetime experiences for families of deployed soldiers and Veterans;
5. Strengthening community ties and awareness;
6. Establishing a love of the arts within NEW audiences

For more information about Military Access contact Kelli Bragdon, Director of Education & Community Engagement at 941.955.7676 ext. 2246 or