The cultural scene in Naples is growing at a lightning-fast clip. As Gulfshore Playhouse’s new campus begins to rise, The Naples Players have kicked off a $15 million capital campaign to renovate and expand the Sugden Community Theatre on Fifth Avenue South.
By the time the “Upholding the Arts” campaign was officially announced in late September, the nonprofit community theater had already reached 60 percent of its fundraising goal thanks to the generosity of local arts angels. In addition to prior commitments, Jay and Patty Baker have pledged $2 million in matching funds. The couple has chosen to name the main performance hall the Kizzie Theater. Many other lead benefactors ¾including Henry Price, Tanya and Denny Glass, David Byron and Vicky C. Smith, John and Joanne Fisher, Terry Libby, and Bob Brady and Kathleen Callahan ¾will be honored throughout the theater.
David Corban Architects is leading the project. The plan includes upgrading all existing theater spaces and building a new theater for The Naples Players’ educational programs. “It will be renovated and reimagined from top to bottom,” says Bryce Alexander, executive artistic director. The Sugden Community Theatre has “been largely untouched since opening in 1998, yet our programs and community reach continue to grow exponentially.”
Alexander says the revitalization could not happen without dedicated philanthropists who share a passion for live theater. “You don’t look very far in Naples without seeing an example of generosity and shared vision. People love Naples, and they continue to invest in our community. Because of that, it just keeps getting better and better.”