Arts & Culture
Sarasota County is home to some of Florida’s oldest and most prestigious institutions. The Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Orchestra, Asolo Repertory Theatre and The Hermitage Artist Retreat are just a few that form our storied arts culture.
A Rich Cultural Tapestry
Sarasota County’s cultural assets rank among the best in Florida. So much so that Southern Living Magazine called Sarasota County “the nation’s per capita arts capital.”
- Asolo Repertory Theatre – Florida’s oldest theatre company
- Florida Studio Theatre – Foremost among many contemporary theatre productions
- Sarasota Ballet – The Gulf Coast’s first professional ballet company
- Sarasota Opera – The Gulf Coast’s first professional opera
- Sarasota Orchestra – Florida’s oldest continuing orchestra
- Venice Chorale – Promotes the art of choral singing through vocal excellence and multi-generational education
- Venice Symphony – Professional orchestra offering a variety of concerts and educational programs
- Venice Theatre – One of the largest and most active community theatres in the US
The Ringling Museum of Art
John Ringling of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and his wife Mable, built a permanent home in Sarasota in 1926. Their presence and patronage of the arts provided a foundation for Sarasota’s creative spirit, transforming it into a mecca for the arts.
Before his death in 1936, Ringling willed his Ca’ d’Zan mansion, his expansive collection of Rubens and Van Dycks and many other artworks to the state of Florida for generations to enjoy at The Ringling Museum of Art.
The Hermitage Artist Retreat
Cultivating the development of world-class talent, The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood invites artistic creators of all disciplines to work at the Gulf side retreat with a “bank” of six weeks of time and two years to “spend” that time in any increment they choose. The artists live and work in five “Old Florida” buildings that have been lovingly restored into living and studio spaces. Free community programs attract area residents and visitors, as well.
Education lies at the heart of the city’s arts community. Sarasota Orchestra and Sarasota Opera include a Youth Orchestra and a Youth Opera respectively, while the Asolo, Florida Studio, Venice, and Players theaters offer outstanding educational programs to budding playwrights and actors.
The Sarasota Ballet offers Dance – The Next Generation, an arts-oriented at-risk youth retention program now in its 16th year.
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Itzhak Perlman Music Program and Jose Carrena Ballet all offer youth educational opportunities. In keeping with the community’s rich circus heritage, the famed Sailor Circus, part of Sarasota’s Circus Arts Conservatory, is a youth program that has been amazing audiences for over 60 years.
Any Given Child
So pervasive is the arts community’s commitment to education that the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts chose Sarasota as its partner for Any Given Child, a program that establishes long-range arts curriculum for public schools. No doubt, Sarasota County will remain the capital of Florida’s Cultural Coast for years to come.
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“The nation’s arts capital per capita.”
–Southern Living Magazine
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