Giving Tuesday with the Venice Institute for Performing Arts

Give the gift of education this holiday season! On Giving Tuesday, the Venice Institute for Performing Arts (VIPA) is encouraging the community to donate to the following educational efforts: the Apprenticeship program, the Internship program, master classes and workshops, outreach with Sarasota County schools, our management company at the Venice Performing Arts Center, and its seasonal performances. VIPA hopes the community will consider a donation to help the Institute continue its mission of providing performing arts education and world class entertainment to Venice and the surrounding areas.


VIPA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has found its home in the newly established performing arts center attached to Venice High School. The unique location near Historic Downtown Venice, and adjacency to the high school, allows the VPAC to truly be a place where arts and education meet, and is the inspiration behind the Institute’s mission. Working with students and community members has been and continues to be the Institute’s biggest motivation.


Apprenticeship Program

During our 2016-2017 season, VIPA launched its Apprenticeship Program- a unique experience for Venice High School juniors and seniors who are paid for their time.  They are given the opportunity to work hands-on with industry professionals in all areas of the performing arts from lighting and sound, to house management and patron relations.  Students learn valuable life skills about responsibility, time management, collaboration, and teamwork, that are not only applicable in the performing arts, but in whatever field the students choose to follow upon graduation.


Through his apprenticeship with the Institute, one 2017 Venice High School Graduate obtained an electrics apprenticeship for “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, and joined the local stage hands union this fall. A second apprentice found a passion for stage management and is now enrolled at the University of Central Florida working on his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Stage Management.  In an open letter to VIPA he writes, “By continuing with theatre, more specifically Stage Management, I aim to inspire young minds like my own that didn’t know where to turn in a time of need, and to continue to inspire myself by bringing productions with great learning to life.  Thank you so very much for restoring my passion, helping make college decisions, and much more.”


All 6 students who graduated from VIPA’s apprenticeship program last spring went on to pursue degrees or careers in the performing arts, and the Institute is thrilled to have been able to more than double the size of the apprenticeship program this season with 13 students actively participating.  


Internship Program

VIPA’s internship program, designed for high school seniors, allows students to get behind the scenes while earning class credit.  Helping students graduate with enriching arts-industry experience, these positions allow students to experience the administrative side of running a performing arts organization.  Internships are designed around individual student’s interests and are unique to each student who participates in the program.  Examples of internship areas students can choose from include volunteer coordination, box office management, social media marketing, graphic design, marketing, and development.

Master Classes and Workshops

When choosing acts to perform at the Venice Performing Arts Center, not only does VIPA look for entertaining and skilled performers, but for performers willing to dedicate time to students interested in learning as much as they can about the performing arts.  In September, Sarasota County High School students were given the opportunity to participate in a master class with The Broadway Boys.  Students prepared a monologue or a song to sing for these Broadway professionals and all students were given feedback as well as tips and tricks on auditioning for both college and professional auditions.  Three students, two from Venice High School and one from Booker High School, were chosen to perform during intermission of the Broadway Boys concert that same evening.  Additional master classes this season are scheduled with Jazz legends Dick Hyman and Ken Peplowski.

Outreach at Local Elementary Schools

This fall, the Institute premiered its first elementary school outreach program- Tech Talks.  Aimed at showing students all that the performing arts has to offer behind the scenes, this free, 5 to 10 session program, walks students through what it means to work backstage, and all of the opportunities available- no matter their interests.  They show students who have a passion for video games how they can turn that skill into programming theatrical lighting boards, students with a passion for painting how they can work on sets or costumes, and so many other talents and interests that can be used in the theatrical realm.


The program can end with a portfolio exhibition, where they present their work to their parents, a tour of the backstage areas at the VPAC, or both.  This pilot program at the Island Village Montessori School has already shown great success in its first two sessions, with 26 students attending from kindergarten through 5th grade.  VIPA is currently working with other local schools to expand this program.

Management Company of the Venice Performing Arts Center

On January 1st, 2017 the Sarasota County School Board named The Venice Institute for Performing Arts the management company for the Venice Performing Arts Center.  As the management company, the Institute coordinates with the three resident performing arts groups – the Venice Symphony, the Venice Concert Band, and the Venice Chorale, schedules performances in the space, hires crew for all non-school shows, coordinates with Venice High School performing arts department and administration, and operates the box office at the Venice Performing Arts Center.  VIPA is thrilled to be able to work with these fantastic organizations!


During 2017, VIPA will present 35 productions and co-productions.  The Institute’s offerings include shows that appeal to the tastes of all segments of its community’s demographics including: family entertainment, lifelong learning, country music, swing and jazz, folk/rock music, dance, and comedy. With the help of hard working staff, volunteers, and a dedicated board of community volunteers, they are off and running as the Institute begins its second full year of production.


Please consider donating to the Venice Institute for Performing Arts by going online to our website at and clicking on “support us.”  As always, they greatly appreciate your continued support of its mission to provide and sustain arts education to the community.