Welcome to Florida’s Cultural Coast and Venice Theatre

By | February 13, 2013

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Venice TheatreLocated on southwest Florida’s beautiful gulf coast, Venice Theatre is the third-largest community theatre in the United States and the largest per capita. Venice theatre a non-profit, organization that has been providing entertainment, education and outreach to our community since 1950.

History of the Venice Theatre


1950 Venice Little Theatre (VLT) is   formed by 40 volunteers. The theatre presents a three-show season in a   converted hangar at Venice Airport.

1956-57   Total   attendance for the four-production season is 1,440.

1972 The company is forced to leave   the airport theatre. The city needs the building for a storage shed. After   plans to construct a new building are thwarted by petitions from its new   neighbors, VLT purchases one of Venice’s original 1926 buildings, the former   gymnasium of Kentucky Military Institute. Theatre seats 286. Local media   calls VLT “the little theatre that wouldn’t die.”

1987-89   The   theatre hires an artistic director. Total attendance is 14,000.

1993 Total attendance tops 20,000   for the first time. Operating budget nears $400K. After-school classes begin with   one class per week. The Silver Foxes, a seniors-only performance troupe,   meets for the first time.

1995 Staff positions are realigned   to include an Artistic/Managing Director. Partnership is formed with   LovelandCenter (for adults with developmental disabilites).

Stage II opens its first full   subscription season, 1995-96. There are 25 subscribers.

1997 MainStage attendance exceeds   43,000. Budget is $675,000 in 1997-98. Summer camps expand to three full   “TheatreFests”, involving 108 students. Year-round class enrollment   tops 100 for the first time, with five classes per semester.

1998 In an independent study, VLT is   revealed as the second most-frequently-attended theatre in SarasotaCounty   (behind the Asolo).

2000 VLT completes $2 million-plus,   four-phase renovation. Facility is now A.D.A. compliant, seats 432 in   MainStage and 90 in Stage II, contains multiple classroom / rehearsal spaces   and features upgraded production equipment and facilities.

2001 VLT’s production of Fool For   Love takes Best Production Honors at Florida Theatre Conference (2nd   consecutive year for VLT), Southeastern Theatre Conference and joins 10 other   shows nationally at AACTFest in Harrisburg, PA. VLT brings home the first   national award for a Southwest Florida theatre.

Total attendance exceeds   68,000.

2002 VLT’s production of Tartuffe   takes Best Production Honors at Florida Theatre Conference and Southeastern   Theatre Conference.

VLT hires full-time Development/Advancement   Director.

2002-2003   VLT’s The   Good Woman of Setzuan takes Best Production Honors at Florida Theatre   Conference and Southeastern Theatre Conference. This is the fourth   consecutive year at FTC and the third consecutive at SETC. The show is   recognized at AACTFest in Torrington, CT with four awards.

Stage II, in its 8th season,   sees dramatic increase in subscription sales, from 245 to 405. Total   attendance nears 90%, with expanded performance runs.

VLT is officially commended by   both the City of Venice and Sarasota County governments for “Outstanding
Accomplishments and Contributions to the cultural richness of Sarasota   County.”

2003-2004   With   grants from local foundation and the City of Venice, VLT purchases adjacent   building and parking lot for $750,000. Immediate effect is that off-site   storage becomes on-site. VLT saves $13,000 per year in space rental..

2008 Venice Little Theatre is   selected to host the 2010 International Community Theatre Festival.

Venice Little Theatre   officially changes name – with unanimous board support – to Venice Theatre.   We’re not “little” anymore!

2010 Venice Theatre hosts the   Festival in Paradise, bringing the AACT International Community Theatre   Festival to Venice. Because of the tremendous success, AACT invites VT to   host it again in 2014. (The only time the same theatre hosts the   international festival twice in a row.)


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