Planned Giving Matters

by Amanda Moths and Melody Mora-Shihadeh

Muriel O’Neil was not just an avid fan of Florida Studio Theatre productions. She was also a great friend of the theatre. In addition to many years of attending shows at FST, her dedication and selfless hours of volunteer work further demonstrated her passion and appreciation for the art of theatre.

Muriel sadly passed away in 2013. But thanks to a generous gift of $500,000 from the Muriel O’Neil Fund for the Performing Arts of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Muriel’s legacy and support of the theatre lives on.

Gertrude Hight, M.D., sister to Muriel, established this gift though a relationship with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to ensure Muriel’s legacy would continue to support an area of the community her sister cherished.

“This legacy gift allows for someone who was very important to our theatre, to remain a part of it,” said Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “Through her gift and the expansion opportunities now made possible, Muriel will continue to be a part of every production we bring to the stage.”

With this gift, an endowed fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has been established to underwrite FST’s Mainstage Series. The Fund will also support renovation of producing offices and construction of a new costume studio.

“We feel so fortunate to be able to steward both Muriel and Gertrude’s generous legacy through this gift,” says Roxie Jerde, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “It’s clear that Muriel had such a passion for our local arts organizations, and Florida Studio Theatre was one that sat so closely to her heart. We’re pleased that Muriel’s name will be remembered through this endowed gift that will impact so many people for years to come.”

This spring, as you review your tax and estate planning, remember Muriel’s story, and remember that planned giving matters. Florida Studio Theatre relies on the support and thoughtful foresight of donors to guarantee the success and sustainability of its forthcoming seasons. Planned giving will ensure that the programs you love and value will endure for future generations.

Planned giving is easier than you might think. Here are just a few ways that you can leave a planned gift to FST:
• Bequest in your will or living trust
• Life income gift (charitable gift annuity, charitable remainder trust or charitable lead trust)
• Retirement plan beneficiary designation
• Life insurance policy beneficiary designation
• Life estate gift (remainder interest in real property)

Small bequests contribute to the theatre’s art and general operations. Larger planned giving can grow and strengthen our Artistic Endowment Funds. Endowments help FST meet expenses not covered by ticket sales, ensuring FST is affordable and accessible well into the future.

You may also choose to support a more specific designation such as an Endowed Fund to Co-Produce each year into perpetuity. Contributing to FST’s Endowment can safeguard and expand Education Scholarships or FST’s WRITE A PLAY series in schools. These funds provide under-served children, as well as their families, with opportunities to participate in and experience the impact of live theatre.

Every donor who remembers FST through planned giving will become a member of the Legacy Society, a special group of individuals who have contributed continuous, lasting support to the theatre. You and your loved ones may also qualify for tax and other financial benefits through giving to FST, a non-profit 501(c) 3.

As you are planning your financial future, it is the perfect time to think about how you would like to create a lasting legacy that will ensure the future of the programming you love.

If your plans include a gift to FST, let us know. We want to thank you and honor your wishes. Please contact Melody Mora-Shihadeh at 941-366-9017 ext. 326 or email for more information, because planned giving matters to the future of FST.

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