about van wezel foundation

Sarasota, FL (April 1) – The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Van Wezel Foundation have partnered together to launch a new arts education service called Artworks Anywhere, a free online service for parents, educators, caregivers and children to meet the growing needs and changing roles of families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will include both live streaming and on-demand recordings of learning activities that can be done anywhere, including visual arts projects modeled by Van Wezel teaching artists, story time and dramatic play, story explorations and other performing arts endeavors.

“For years local school districts and early learning centers have looked to the expertise of the Van Wezel Arts Education and Community Engagement department to inspire students to learn using the power of the performing arts,” noted Mary Bensel, executive director at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. “Access to the arts is essential, and we are thrilled to provide these resources to our community and beyond.”

“At a time of incredible change in our world, supporting the Artworks Anywhere initiative with the Van Wezel Hall is a meaningful extension of our arts education mission,” commented Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation. “Throughout this pandemic, it is inspiring to bring our resources together to support children, educators and families in our community, through the dedication of our board and donors.”

The Artworks Anywhere service will feature videos from Van Wezel teaching artists with new content being offered each week featuring a See Art, Create Art, Share Art model. Families, school districts and early learning centers will be encouraged to utilize the service as part of their remote learning strategies. Each video module will be broadcast on a custom YouTube channel and include a call-to-action project, encouraging children and families to create art together, including drawings, stories, poems, dance moves, songs and other works to be shared online at the Schooltime at the Van Wezel Facebook page using the #ArtworksAnywhere hashtag. A landing page on the Van Wezel Foundation website will also be established for the entire community to engage online.

“The teaching artists at the Van Wezel have previously worked with school districts, teachers and early childcare professionals to deliver high-quality performing arts education and integration methods to effectively teach children about core subjects such as math, science and reading,” said Kelli Maldonado, director of Education & Community Engagement, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. “Through innovative content, including collaborations with local arts and education organizations, we believe Artworks Anywhere will be an inspirational way to not only teach important skills, but use the arts to help children as they navigate this ever-changing landscape now and for years to come.”

The Van Wezel Arts Education and Community Engagement department is one of the largest providers of arts education in our community. They currently serve more than 30,000 students and provide professional development opportunities for more than 420 teachers each year. In addition, the Hall also partners with notable organizations to enrich our community, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. To enhance this program for young children, please consider making a donation to the Van Wezel Foundation at

See art. Create art. Share art. #ArtworksAnywhere.

A true pioneer in the cultural development of Sarasota, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall presents spectacular Broadway musicals, top national and international performers, popular comedians and a compelling mix of classical and dance productions. Owned and operated by the City of Sarasota, the Van Wezel celebrated its 50th Anniversary during the 2019-2020 season. The theater’s Education and Community Engagement Department serves over 30,000 students, teachers and family members each year, teaching them in, through and about the arts. To learn more, visit

Since 1987, The Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota to foster a connection between the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity. Through this collaboration and the generosity of donors, the Foundation has provided grants of more than $14 million to invest in arts education and capital projects at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The mission of the Van Wezel Foundation is to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds. For more information, visit To learn more about the many ways we can grow our vision for the community together, visit

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