Stephanie Williams’ passion for the arts began when she was a young girl growing up in New York City, where she had access to museums, attended the ballet, listened to the opera and more. This love of the arts persisted throughout Stephanie’s life and, when it came time to relocate, her and her husband, Roger, were drawn to Sarasota because of its vibrant cultural offerings.
Williams quickly recognized that the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall offered a broad array of different arts experiences and diverse entertainment options – something that was essential to her, as she has always enjoyed immersing herself in all genres, stemming from her childhood experiences in New York City.
As Sarasota became Stephanie and Roger’s forever home, they began becoming active in the community, originally contributing to the Van Wezel Foundation because of her appreciation for the Hall’s performances and to ensure a vibrant arts scene for their newfound home.
As Stephanie learned more about the Foundation, however, she became intrinsically drawn to its mission of helping children access arts education opportunities. Access to the arts had a profound impact on her life – giving her a lasting and deep appreciation for the power of the arts – and she was eager to share this passion with area schoolchildren.
Through Stephanie’s generosity, the Foundation underwrites hundreds of tickets annually, giving many children their first experience witnessing a live performance. The mission doesn’t end there – Stephanie and donors’ philanthropy allows Van Wezel Hall teaching artists to go into the community and provide immersive, engaging arts-based education opportunities to improve overall academic success.
Without our generous community, schoolchildren – especially those without access to resources – would not have these opportunities. In fact, through the generosity of Stephanie and our community of donors, the Foundation has been able to deliver arts education and integration to more than 50,000 students, educators and families throughout the region annually.
We honor our philanthropic community and thank Stephanie and others who make the Foundation’s mission-driven work come to life in our community.