A Message from the Producing Artistic Director – FST Remains Strong

Dear Friends and Patrons,

I hope that you and yours are staying well during this difficult time. It has been SIX MONTHS since the Pandemic of 2020 forced us to shutter our theatres. 

The good news is that FST is strong and we are weathering this difficult moment in our collective history with a positive spirit. We are down to a skeletal crew of about 30 people, from a company of over 160. This small team is readying the theatre for a strong reopening as soon as it is safe to do so.

We remain hopeful that we will have a Winter Season for 2020-21. Specific dates will be announced in November. By then, we expect to have a much better idea of how and when the reopening will occur. 

When we do open again fully, we will provide our audiences with a view-at-home option for those who aren’t able to return in person. We will capture a high quality, multi-camera video of each production. This option will be available for subscribers who will be provided a code and a link to go online and view the production. I think this added feature will provide a measure of safety and security for everyone in our audience. 

In the meantime, our skeletal crew is enormously productive, making a strong theatre into a stronger theatre as we look forward to reopening. Here is what we’re doing to better prepare for your return to the theatre:

  • The FST School for Adults continues to grow online. We are finding an expanded national audience of FST theatre-goers and their friends. Improv is finding an international attendance. And after going online, our audience for FST Forums has grown ten-fold!
  • The FST School for Youth is serving 56 students, mostly in-person, with a vastly expanded scholarship program thanks to the Barancik Foundation.       
  • All five of our theatres have been refurbished and polished for a new reopening.
  • Our 18 residences for visiting artists are being refurbished, repainted, and upgraded to welcome back the artists and artisans who serve you.
  • For years we have wanted to “get ahead of the curve” and build a host of Cabaret shows ready to go into production. We now have 16 Cabaret shows in development – all being prepared with Sarasota audiences in mind.
  • The Playwright Collective now boasts 13 playwrights who are continuing to write for FST, with more than a dozen new plays headed for Mainstage production.
  • Our website is being upgraded in both form and function to make it more user-friendly for the audience and the staff required to maintain it.

Additionally, we are improving our “back of house” operations to streamline operations and cut costs when we reopen. These upgrades include: 

  • A new Accounting Software System upgrade to make us leaner and more efficient
  • A new Inventory Software System upgrade to improve efficiency for Production, Facilities, and IT departments
  • An FST Archive Creation project, which creates a universal filing and storage system that allows FST staffers to digitally store and access all parts of our five theatre operation – from production to administration to marketing. In the future, we plan to give our audience and the general public access to this archive featuring nearly a half-century of performing arts history at FST
  • The Snowbird Project to make it even easier and breezier for our patrons to schedule and reschedule their shows

And the FST Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Project, which engages the entire FST staff in training to better understand issues of our new world and the diverse audience that we serve. This includes training for diverse populations – from differences in race and gender to age. 

Thank you for your continuing support during this difficult time. We couldn’t do it without you. The generosity of our audience is overwhelming. And it is this generosity that makes Sarasota the great arts town that it is today. I look forward to seeing you at the theatre. 


Richard Hopkins, Producing Artistic Director