Community leaders gather for a roundtable discussion on arts and inclusion

Community leaders gather for a roundtable discussion on arts and inclusion

Florida Studio Theater Company (FST), Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative (SBAC) and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County teamed up to host a roundtable conversation on Monday, November 13, focused on how local arts organizations can better engage with underrepresented students and families in Sarasota.

Members of organizations representing students and families of African descent, Black community leadership, and leaders of arts organizations met to discuss ways the groups can collaborate and provide programming for youth of color in the future.

“Art is a powerful tool to connect, educate and unify,” said Michelle DeVerne Redwine, founder and executive director of the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative. “Monday’s ‘Courageous Conversations’ created an opportunity for arts and culture leaders, Black community leaders and co-leaders in Newtown organizations to work closely together to grow programming for youth. We believe all things are possible when our voices come together to create a conduit for the arts experience. We have taken seriously the challenges of real life, we provoked and questioned it, and ultimately, we discovered transformative solutions in the arts for our underrepresented communities.

The event opened with speeches from Michelle De Verney Redwine, Kate Alexander (Associate Director of FST) and Marsha Haygood, motivational speaker, empowerment coach and best-selling author who served as event facilitator. After these remarks, attendees split into different rooms to discuss how underrepresented members of the Sarasota community can become more involved in various arts and cultural organizations. Participants also spoke about the ways in which the arts can nurture youth and inspire community curiosity.

After two hours of dialogue, guests reconvened in FST’s Keating Theater to share the results of their discussion. The event concluded with short speeches by Roxy Gerde (President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County) and Michelle De Verney Redwine.

This roundtable discussion was the fifth event in SBAC’s Discover the Arts and Racial Justice series. The first three events were held virtually, and the fourth event was held at the Florida Studio Theater on October 4, 2021, and was entitled “The Black Experience in the Arts in Higher Education.” For more information about the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative and its programs, please visit

List of organizations that were represented at the event


Young people too

Amaryllis Park Neighborhood Association

Asolo Repertory Theatre

Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County

Black Community Working Together, Inc.

Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties

Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota – Newtown

Sarasota Choral Artists

Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Florida Studio Theater

The Hermitage artist retreated

Manasota Society for the Study of African American Life and History

Mary Selby Botanical Gardens

Sarasota African American Cultural Alliance

Sarasota Museum of Art at Ringling College

Sarasota Contemporary Dance

Sarasota Housing Authority

Sarasota Opera

A company with real value

Van Wezel Hall for the Performing Arts

Venice theatre

West Coast Black Theater Ensemble

Florida Studio Theater (FST) is Sarasota’s contemporary theatre. Founded in 1973, FST has grown into a five-theater village located in the heart of downtown Sarasota. Each stage is small in size and big in impact, providing intimate and inviting settings for high-quality, professional performances.

Today, FST has established itself as a major force in American theatre. FST is the largest subscription theater in the state of Florida and among the largest in the country, serving more than 225,000 live audiences each year across its diverse programs: Mainstage, Cabaret, Stage III, Children’s Theater, Improv, The FST School, and New Play Development.

Even as it grows, Florida Studio Theater remains deeply committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to as many people as possible. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins, FST develops theater that speaks to our living, evolving and dynamically changing world. Hip and historical, entertaining and challenging, we are where everyone is welcome to participate in the art of theatre.

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