Gulfshore Playhouse Announces First Corporate Gift From Bank Of America For New Theatre And Education Center

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Gulfshore Playhouse Announces First Corporate Gift From Bank Of America For New Theatre And Education Center

Gulfshore Playhouse, Naples' premier professional theatre has reached another milestone in its Next Stage Capital Campaign with the announcement of its first corporate gift. Bank of America has awarded Gulfshore Playhouse with a $250,000 grant that will support the construction of the new Gulfshore Playhouse Theatre and Education Center at the corner of Goodlette-Frank Road and First Avenue South.

The announcement was revealed at a recent breakfast event co-hosted by Michael Wynn and Gulfshore Playhouse, and attended by business and philanthropic leaders from the Southwest Florida region.

"At Bank of America, we believe that exposure to arts and culture is a driving force behind thriving communities," said Gerri Moll, Southwest Florida market president for Bank of America. "Gulfshore Playhouse is supporting Naples' long-term growth by promoting cultural understanding, fostering economic development and inspiring innovation."

The Bank of America gift bolsters the momentum built this summer following the announcement of meeting the Patty and Jay Baker Match, bringing the campaign to more than $20 million of its $53 million construction and land goal.

Offering more than 40,000 square feet of space, the new Gulfshore Playhouse Theatre and Education Center will extend the Downtown Naples corridor further east, spurring economic growth in that quadrant. The new Center will include a 350-seat Mainstage Theatre where large-cast musicals, treasured classics, and other popular works will be staged.

The new theatre will also feature a second, more intimate, Studio Theatre where a diverse array of programming from edgier new works to Theatre for Young Audiences will be produced, as well as performances by students of Gulfshore Playhouse Education. The dedicated theatre and education wing's classrooms and rehearsal spaces will host activities accessible to students of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

"Having this significant support from Bank of America, a major financial institution investing in Southwest Florida, is a great endorsement toward reaching our goals of creating an artistically vibrant cultural landmark that will anchor the flourishing downtown area." said Kristen Coury, Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Gulfshore Playhouse. "We hope other corporations will support this effort as generously as Bank of America has."

National averages state those who attend a performing arts venue spend on average $60-$75 per person on auxiliary services; coupled with an increase in the theatre's operational budget, which is anticipated to grow to $8-$10 million, 90 percent of which is spent directly in Naples - Gulfshore Playhouse will be responsible for $20-$25 million in economic impact upon completion of the new Theatre and Education Center.

"Cultural institutions like Gulfshore Playhouse matter because they not only contribute to our economy, but also help us connect and promote inclusion through the language of creativity," added Moll. "The Playhouse is an invaluable asset to Naples, that will continue to enrich this community in countless ways."

With an expanded capability for a vast array of show programming - including a myriad of educational offerings, community outreach, and programs for at-risk and special needs children - the community will have countless opportunities to engage with varied audiences resulting in expanded dialogue and perspective on world issues.

In addition to the Bank of America corporate gift and $10 million Baker gift, lead individual support for the Next Stage Capital Campaign included significant gifts from Naples philanthropists and Broadway producers Sandi and Tom Moran, downtown Naples developer Phil McCabe, the Wynn family and several dozen other local donors.

"Our family chose to be one of the lead supporters because the Gulfshore Playhouse Theatre and Education Center will strengthen our community," said Michael Wynn, CEO of Sunshine Ace Hardware. "The quality of life for Collier County has long been recognized as one of the things that makes this place unique in the world, and the role arts and culture play are a critical component to supporting that quality of life."

The Next Stage Capital Campaign was launched in 2016 by the Bakers and the Gulfshore Playhouse Board of Directors under the leadership of Bob Harden, in support of Coury's vision. The land for the three-acre parcel was purchased in 2017, and renowned architects H3/Arquitectonica under the guidance of Bernardo Fort-Brescia were selected as the lead design architects in the spring of 2018. Currently in the Design Development phase, Gulfshore Playhouse and the Capital Campaign Committee, led by Board of Director Chair Steve Akin are focused on achieving the funding needed to break ground January 2021.

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