HISTORY

Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation, Inc., formerly Partners 'N Progress for the Arts, Inc, is a community-based, non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation supporting the Largo Cultural Center. The Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation successfully works with individual and corporate donors to provide annual operating funds, equipment upgrades, program sponsorship and other amenities that provide direct benefit to the patrons of the Cultural Center. The Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation also works to increase general public awareness of the cultural and educational programs available.

 

The Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation was incorporated in 1985 for the purpose of benefiting the programs of Largo's Recreation and Parks Department and to promote the performing arts in the community, through volunteerism and fund raising. The foundation consists of a 20 member board and numerous dues paying general members. The board includes business leaders and community supporters dedicated to the advancement of cultural and performing arts in the greater Tampa Bay area.

In 1989, PNP took on their most ambitious fund raising undertaking ever, Largo Central Park and the Largo Cultural Center. The City of Largo had purchased land where the old Largo Fairgrounds once stood. The master plan included turning this 70 acre parcel into a central park area for special events and other activities. PNP eagerly accepted the challenge to raise funds for the park and in 1995, when the park opened, they immediately turned their focus to their next major undertaking, the Largo Cultural Center.

In 1990, Largo attorney Bruce McManus approached Mrs. Marian Tonne, who had a lifelong love of the arts. Mrs. Tonne and her husband Theodore had already left the majority of their estate to the Pinellas County Community Foundation. Mr. Tonne had worked as an accountant with National City Bus Lines in Chicago for many years, where Marian was a secretary at the same company. After taking early retirement, the couple had settled in the community of Belleair, and later moved to Belleair Bluffs, communities just west of Largo.

Mrs. Tonne with the counsel of Mr. McManus and AmSouth Bank Trust Administrator, Tom Bruckman, decided that $600,000 of the estate would be donated to the City of Largo with the specific provision that it be used within five years to begin construction of a community theater.

$600,000 was a great start, but when plans were finished for the center, it came with a price tag of $3.7 million. Keeping the project going then became the responsibility of the Department Director, Cathy Santa, with the help of new Mayor, Thom Feaster and Partners 'N Progress. Partners 'N Progress set a fund raising goal of $592,000 and Santa went about securing grants from the State's Division of Cultural Affairs.

To encourage more individual contributions, the Partners 'N Progress Foundation sold "star" and "chair" sponsorships which ranged from $100 to $1000. These sponsorships gave contributors permanent recognition on either one of the walls in the building or an engraved plaque on one of the theater seats.

In two years, the City's combined fund raising drive brought in a total of $1 million in state grants, with an additional $482,000 in corporate and private donations through Partners 'N Progress. Over 75 chair sponsorships and 300 star sponsorships were sold, and $110,000 was generated in in-kind donations of products and services.

In June 1999, the Partners 'N Progress Foundation joined with Angels for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) organization with the simple goal of advancing the arts in mid-Pinellas county and making them accessible to everyone. Both boards joined together under one president and the first annual fundraising drive was initiated in September 1999.

Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation is currently aiming to complete a $360,000 endowment challenge in order to be eligible for a State of Florida Cultural Endowment Program match of $240,000.

We have come so far in such a short time. But there is still much to be done. Community support for our mission will be evident when performing art lovers like you:

  • increase their financial contributions
  • become Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation members
  • designate Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation as the beneficiary in their wills
  • frequently attend performances at the Largo Cultural Center
  • volunteer their time and talent

Won't you become more involved with the performing arts in your community?
To learn more about opportunities available visit the donations and membership page or call 727-587-6751. 

SUNCOAST PERFORMING ARTS FOUNDATION LANDMARKS

  • 1983 – Partners N Progress is created.
  • November 1985 – Partners N Progress Foundation is incorporated.
  • June 1994 – The Vice-Mayor and PNP spearhead the addition of a Military Court of Honor to honor men and women who have served their country.
  • May 1995 – PNP committed $65,000 to build the Clock Tower in Largo Central Park
  • June 1999 – The PNP Foundation joins with Angels for the Arts.
  • September 1999 – First PNP annual fundraising drive initiated
  • February 2005 – PNP assists the Cultural Center with the purchase of a full-color LED marquee
  • September 2006 – PNP holds inaugural fund raising gala.
  • March 2007 – The inaugural Largo Central Park Artist Market is held.
  • September 2010 – PNP becomes Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation