Sarasota Circus Arts Conservatory gets $4M upgrade

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Under the dome of the Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota, a history unlike any other is preserved. 

"Underneath this roof is 69 years of incredible youth circus history," said Jennifer Mitchell. 

But the roof hasn't been able to keep the Florida heat away. Executive Vice President Jennifer Mitchell points out what's missing: Air conditioning. 

Thanks to the community's generosity and a grant from the state, that will no longer be an issue. Money raised will provide A/C and some much-needed updates. 

"We will also be doing retractable seating for 1,500, new concrete flooring, [and] a new sprung performance floor," said Mitchell. 

The changes will also allow people with disabilities to attend performances, camps, and classes. 

Construction is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, just in time for the big 70th-anniversary celebration where new memories will be made with a future generation of circus performers.

The project costs $4 million. One million was provided through a state grant. Additional funding was raised through foundations and private donors. 

The Circus Arts Conservatory is working to raise an additional $700,000 to finish the job. 

"I spent a lot of time here and, with all the time we spent training, it became a second family to me," said Josiah Bichler. 

Bichler is in college now, but he comes back to help train new performers. 

"I actually got to know the circus and I loved it. It's really unique that everyone can find something here," he said. 

A new state of the art facility to teach the age-old art of circus performing. 

"The circus is in the fabric and roots of this community. It's part of how Sarasota was founded. I truly believe in keeping this legacy alive, but not just keeping it alive and preserving it, but advancing it," said Mitchell.