Students involved with WBTT programs can earn funds toward artistic education and training

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is proud to announce the expansion of its scholarship program for deserving students. Last year – the first for WBTT’s scholarship program – six up-and-coming artists were presented with $1,000 scholarships for studies in a college or conservatory program in the performing arts or arts management for the 2019-2020 academic year. This year, WBTT will have enough funding to provide six young artists with scholarships of $2,000 each.

Additional funds were raised this year through named scholarships from Marie McKee and Robert Cole, Jack and Priscilla Schlegel, and through memorial gifts made in honor of late board member Alan Kurland, who died in April.

Kurland was involved with the performing arts in college and his first professional job was as the artistic director of the Theatre of Savannah, before he was shipped overseas to serve in the Army as a Combat Correspondent. He and his wife, Abbie, who survives him, came to Sarasota from Baltimore in 2001. They fell in love with Sarasota’s beauty and cultural offerings, and continued their real estate development business here. He served on several area nonprofit boards. In 2010 he joined his good friend Howard Millman on the WBTT board and served as its vice chairman for many years; he was deeply committed to the mission and people of WBTT.

"While WBTT is dedicated to producing the finest dramatic and musical theater, my dream – my true calling and purpose for founding this organization – has always been to help young aspiring artists who may otherwise be overlooked to develop their talents and have the opportunity to achieve success," said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Jacobs. "We are thrilled to be able to contribute financially to the arts education of deserving students. This year’s awards will be a most worthy tribute to Alan, who was a great friend and leader, and an enthusiastic fan of our work."

To be eligible for a scholarship, participants must have performed on the WBTT stage in at least two productions, worked at WBTT as an intern, and/or have been a participant in the WBTT Stage of Discovery summer musical theater intensive program. Funds are disbursed directly to the educational institution the awardees will be attending in the fall.

“Theatre was always Alan’s first love – he used to say that he would have stayed in the theatre if the Army hadn’t drafted him,” said WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. “Alan was an extremely kind man who asked to join our board so he could help us grow. The theatre gave Alan much joy and his contagious laughter lightened up our board meetings and all our gatherings. He is greatly missed.