Venice Gondolier-Sun


VENICE — For Venice Theatre, the year 2020 started with the Next Act Capital Campaign as local philanthropist William H. Jervey pledged $1 million to match community support.

Recently, he provided a $250,000 check — from 6 feet away — to the theater’s Producing Executive Director Murray Chase as a part of the match.

“We are incredibly grateful to him for his continued match challenge to the community to keep Venice Theatre vibrant and able to adapt to the changing needs of our audiences, students, performers, volunteers and staff,” Chase said in a Thursday news release.

William H. Jervey Jr. delivers his Next Pledge installment of $250,000 to Venice Theatre Producing Executive Director Murray Chase.

The next goal includes securing $100,000 for another match by Sept. 30, Chase said.

Jervey became involved with the theater last year when he helped it purchase a facility formerly known as the Hamilton Building next to Venice Theatre that’s to become the Arts Education Building.

The November purchase enabled “Venice Theatre to expand classroom and rehearsal spaces and enhance its educational programs for all ages,” the theater said in the news release.

Then, in January, Jervey’s $1 million pledge was a part of an effort to give the theater “a big boost and launched the public phase of the $2.5 million campaign.”

During April’s Giving Challenge, Jervey offered a match to assist with the theater’s financial damage from COVID-19 pandemic “rather than restricting it to the capital campaign,” the news release states. The Giving Challenge was hosted by Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with assistance from The Patterson Foundation.

“The community rose to the challenge and the theatre raised the nearly quarter of a million dollars he promised to give at the end of the final fiscal quarter,” the news release states. “Last week, Venice Theatre received the $192,300 Giving Challenge check from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.”

The Giving Challenge was not just a financial suggestion for the theater, it said. Nearly 500 new donors contributed — an increase of 40% from the 2018 Giving Challenge, the theater said.

More than $5,500 was also raised by donors and matches from theater board members Lynn Crandall, Laura Kopple and Mark Nehiba. “The theatre’s expansion and improvement of its production and education campus are necessary to support its mission to make a dramatic impact on all stages of life,” the news release states.

Venice Theatre is seeking community support through tax-deductible gifts. Those interested in assisting can visit the website

For more information on the campaign, email Deputy Director of Development Camille Cline at or Director of Development Eric Watters at