Sarasota Arts and Culture
Sarasota is known as Florida's "Cultural Coast." John Ringling, the circus founder, was at the forefront of cultural development. Like many, he spent winters in Sarasota and was one of the first to bring art and culture to this area. In the 1920's he built the John and Mable Ringling Museum to hold his personal art.
There is no need to introduce Sarasota as a world class destination of the performing arts in its own right. The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County (formerly Sarasota County Arts Council) plays a leading role in sustaining and boosting community development through the arts. Opportunities in Sarasota will satisfy the needs and likes of any artist lover who can pick and choose from many diverse performing arts entertainment venues on the Cultural Coast.
Sarasota is fortunate to have a thriving artist and cultural community. If you are relocating from a larger city you can feel comfortable knowing that Sarasota boasts numerous venues for art entertainment. Below are just a few of the reason why this area has been considered to cultural capital of Florida.
The Art Center offers an interactive experience for young and old in the community. It is an affordable member-based organization with educational programs, with approximately 100 classes and 27 exhibitions throughout the year. The center provides an excellent opportunity for the cultivation of young and upcoming artists with youth programs such as Creative Kids Summer Art Camp and the popular outreach program, Slice of Art. Committed volunteers render support to the Art Center staff with fundraisings and the management of the center in general.
The historic Asolo Repertory Theatre forms an integral part of the cultural advantages offered to students of the fine arts and to the public in Sarasota County. Created in 1798 in Italy as a palace playhouse in honor of the exiled Queen Catherine Cornaro of Cyprus, the theatre was brought to the Ringling Estate in the late 1940’s. Today it serves as an extraordinary setting in a historic museum for concerts, plays, motion picture programs, dance, music and lectures. The theatre is rated as one of the most popular cultural centers on the Sarasota Coast. In the Asolo Theatre audiences can enjoy a vibrant and unique theatre experience of top quality productions of contemporary, classical and newly bespoken repertory works.
The Asolo Theatre Company
5555 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, Florida 34243
(941) 351-8000 or (800) 361-8388
The focal point of The Banyan Theatre Company is the production of unique theatre for first audience using a combined arrangement of puppetry, imaginative story telling and original music. This award-winning touring company was formed by partners Karen Torley and Joy Haynes in 1993 and presents its summer season in the intimate Jane B. Cook Theatre.
In the heart of the Sarasota city center is the very popular Florida Studio Theatre (FLS) campus. The FLS is embodied in the Goldstein Cabaret, characterized by its Parisian style and the two historic theatres, The Gompertz and The Keating theatres. Although the theatres are small in size with contemporary American plays on the main stage and musical revues in the intimate cabaret theater all performances echo top quality and professional performing arts. Keen theatre lovers can choose from a series of programs offered by FLS such as The Cabaret Series, The Mainstage Series, The Write a Play, The New Play Development or The Stage III/Off Centre program.
Florida Studio Theatre
1241 Palm Ave. N.
Sarasota, Florida 34236
The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre prides itself in treating visitors to a delectable and scrumptious meal and wrapping up a great dining experience with an elaborate broadcast performance. Dinner is served buffet style in the main theatre. The dining space is cleared after dinner and transformed into a “Magic Carpet” stage which is floated forward on a cushion of air. The Apple Dinner Theatre opened its doors in 1971 and is affiliated with Actor’s Equity association. Broadway classics such as Evita, The Can Can, Funny Girl and Chicago has been performed in the cozy and warm atmosphere of the theatre and more than 300 musicals and plays have been produced over the past three decades.
This is one of the nation's premier art and design colleges. The school's primary mission is to, "provide programs leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree that prepare students to be discerning visual thinkers and ethical practitioners in their chosen area of art and design."
Initiated and partly funded by Philanthropists, Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel the doors of Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall opened in 1970 with a production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. For 40 years this popular attraction has been presenting Sarasota audiences with world-class Broadway touring productions, classic and modern dance performances and comedies. William Wesley Peters was inspired by two seashells for his architectural design of the 1,376-seated Hall. The lavender and purple color scheme was suggested by Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, the widow of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Grand Foyer of The Wezel can comfortably seat 35 – 350 people and opens onto the Terrace and Bayfront lawn to accommodate 1500 additional people. The Selby Education Center, Greenroom and Founders Lounge can conveniently accommodate smaller groups of up to 30 people. Old and young in the Sarasota have the opportunity to enhance their cultural experience by engaging in the educational and outreach programs offered by The Van Wezel.
VanWezel Performing Arts Center
777 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, Florida 34236
This event will be held March 31st through April 9th, 2006. You will see over 85 international and independent features. This festival brings many wonderful films to local audiences, focusing its attention on less mainstream movies and foreign features. Some of the events allow you to rub elbows with some of Hollywood's best actors and actresses.
A private, non profit organization whose mission is to create an environment where arts flourish.
Sarasota Arts Council
1226 N. Tamiami Trail, Suite 300
Sarasota, FL 34236
The Player is one of the most revered theater community institutions in Sarasota featuring concerts, play readings and musicals throughout the year. Even though The Player is a non-professional community theatre many former professionals bring their training and experience to the stage of The Player to assist with productions. In the role as Artistic Director of The Players Theatre is Jeffery Kin, a classically trained actor and former member of Actors Equity, the actors’ professional union. He traded his many years of regional and New York theatre for a life in Sarasota with his focus on directing, writing and teaching.
The Players Theatre
838 North Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34236
Founded in 1980, this is one of the liveliest, toe-tappingest groups in town, providing loads of great jazz and community programs for Florida's West Coast.
Jazz Club of Sarasota
330 S. Pineapple Ave.,#111
Sarasota, FL. 34236
This is the oldest continuing orchestra in the state of Florida. It has a 37 week season and performs in many of Sarasota's venues.
709 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34236
The art of dance was introduced to Sarasota in 1962 when Jean Spear founded the first professional ballet troupe, the Florida Ballet Company with its own official ballet school, Florida Ballet Arts (FBA). In 2000 Mary Elizabeth Mock came on board as Artistic/Executive Director of FBA and Florida Ballet Arts Ensemble. She enhanced the training and performing experience of many a ballet student in the school to a level of excellence and for more than a decade Sarasota audiences have been entertained with cutting edge performances and choreography. Her ventures resulted in the alliance of like-minded individuals and organizations and the former FBA expanded into the Professional Dance Alliance as a professional arena for students to engage in master workshops and classes.
Sarasota Ballet has garnered international recognition in 2008 – 2009 and captured the ballet world’s attention with 20th century neoclassic works to become the first American company ever to perform The Rake’s Progress, the exclusive 1935 work of Dame Ninette de Valois.
5555 N. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34234
This is a cornerstone of Sarasota's Theater Arts District. It host everything from opera, symphony and classical ballet to film festivals, popular music concerts, comedy shows and clowns. The building will seat up to 390 people.
Sarasota Opera House
61 North Pineapple Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34236
The West Coast Black Theater Troupe is the only black theater company on the west coast of Florida and has been founded in 1999 by local singer, actor, director and playwright, Nate Jacobs. The main mission of The West Coast Black Theatre Troupe is to encourage and develop African-American artists. They function as a Domestic Non Profit Corporation and there line of business is theatrical performance and productions. The company’s high quality productions have earned them a very good reputation. This platform created the unique opportunity for many African-American youth and upcoming artists to develop their talents through participation in the company’s productions. Numeral artists trained by the WBTT in the performing arts have contended in productions with regional and national companies like Florida Studio Theatre, Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville, Tennessee and Mad River Theatre.