Sarasota – The Cultural Capital of Florida

Photo by Cliff Roles – Cast of Asolo Repertory’s production of West Side Story 

When we say that Sarasota is full of “arts and culture,” what exactly does that mean?  Well, aside from being internationally recognized for our beaches, Sarasota is also gaining “arts and culture” notoriety not only in the state of Florida, but nationally and even internationally for being one of the “few communities in the nation that have the depth and quality of arts and cultural offerings” that can be found in Sarasota.  Those offerings include live theater, concerts, ballet, opera, galleries, museums, exquisite architecture, art walks, festivals, and of course, our beloved circus. 

John Ringling

John Ringling

In fact, the foundation of our community lives within the arts and circus magnate, John Ringling of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  When he decided to bring the circus’ winter headquarters to Sarasota, he also brought with him a keen vision for real estate development and an incredible passion for arts and culture.  Thus, “with the seed of arts planted in prominent style, a community was created where artists were valued and creativity was cherished. Today, that legacy lives on.”

Numerous publications have noticed Sarasota beyond our gorgeous beaches as well.  Here is a list of recent accolades:

  • American Style Magazine named Sarasota as the No. 1 “Small City for Art in the United States”
  • NerdWallet listed Sarasota in the “Best Small Cities for Art Lovers”
  • Sarasota’s iconic Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has been recognized as the No. 1 “Performing Arts Hall in North America” in the 2,000-seat category by Venues Today five times
  • Movoto named Sarasota among “The Best Cities in Florida for the Arts”
  • TopRetirements.com said Sarasota is known for “Most Big Cultural Institutions per Square Inch”
  • Coastal Living Magazine named the Sarasota community of Towles Court among the “Top 10 Artists Colonies in North America”
  • The annual Sarasota Film Festival was recently named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by Movie Maker Magazine

From new museums on the horizon like the Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA) to the expansion of the Ringling College of Art and Design that includes new sound stages scheduled to open soon, our community is committed to keeping Sarasota as a “hub for creativity and culture.”  Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is one of the most exciting initiatives dedicated to maintaining our status as “Florida’s premier destination for arts and culture” whereby a long-term master plan has been set for re-investing in 42 acres of land along the Bayfront near the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The goal of this project is to create a “permanent expression of Sarasota’s cultural prowess while inhabiting one of the city’s most beautiful and accessible waterfront settings.

Click here to read more on this story from Michael Saunders & Company

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