Leading the nation’s growth for arts and entertainment, Gulfshore Playhouse recently celebrated the completion of the design process and upcoming groundbreaking in September for the new Gulfshore Playhouse Cultural Campus featuring the Baker Theatre and Education Center. Reaffirming their commitment to the transformative project, Patty and Jay Baker made a surprise announcement at the celebration, pledging to match all gifts made by July 4, 2021 up to $10 million. The Bakers, who kicked off the Next Stage Capital Campaign with the first match gift, now have pledged up to $20 million for the new Cultural Campus.
“Jay and I have always believed in laying eggs where we nest, and we nest in Naples. When Kristen shared with us her vision for creating a beautiful new state-of-the art theater in Naples that would serve our community with professional programming and impactful education initiatives, we stepped up as the first supporters,” said Patty Baker, Gulfshore Playhouse board member, Naples philanthropist and Tony-award winning producer.
“We know this project will create transformational change in downtown Naples and enhance the vibrant redevelopment occurring in the downtown area. It’s time to see this project come to life, and we invite others to join us in making it happen today,” added Jay Baker, co-founder of the national retail chain, Kohl’s, and longtime donor for Gulfshore Playhouse.
Responding to the call, Drs. Patricia and George Kraus have stepped up as the first match donors, pledging $1 million. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Tuck Graduate School of Business, Mr. Kraus is a serial entrepreneur and has been the founder of several companies. Author of “A Will, A Way”, Mrs. Kraus has served on numerous charitable boards, including Youth Haven and Professional Givers Anonymous.
The Next Stage Celebration included a star-studded evening featuring Broadway’s Jason Danieley and Emmy- and Grammy-award winner John McDaniel, Naples philanthropists, business executives and civic leaders. The event was attended by nearly 300 supporters committed to bringing to life the new Gulfshore Playhouse Cultural Campus, destined to elevate the region’s growing reputation as a destination for the arts. In addition to Patty and Jay Baker, special guest speakers included, Steve Akin, Gulfshore Playhouse board chairman and co-chair of the Next Stage Capital Campaign; Michael Wynn, CEO of Sunshine Ace Hardware, and Kristen Coury, CEO and producing artistic director for Gulfshore Playhouse.