Photos by:
Les Freed

Sarasota: Florida's Cultural Coast

Sarasota is known as Florida's Cultural Coast and is considered by some to be the cultural center of the southeastern US. It is home to many world-renowned artists and to the official state art museum of Florida, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Affiliated with Florida State University, it is the largest museum/university complex in the nation.

The 66-acre Ringling Estate includes 21 galleries of European and American art with paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Poussin and other baroque masters. You will also find a multitude of art galleries lining the streets, open studio shows, and one of the finest art schools in the world, Ringling School of Art and Design. With all of the natural beauty and culture of this city, it is not a wonder that it attracts artists and performers from around the globe.

Theater, music and film are also important venues of creativity in Sarasota and there is an abundance of theaters and performing halls to enjoy here. The Asolo Theater was an eighteenth century "theater-in-the-round" in Italy that was dismantled, moved here piece by piece, and reassembled on the grounds of the Ringling estate in the early 1950's. It is still used today for plays, performances, and acting classes for the Asolo Performing Arts Center. The wealth of cultural resources and creativity in Sarasota is a true blessing to those who live and play here.


Sarasota Film Festival - A glamorous week each Spring including film screenings, premieres, and parties for both fans and creators of documentary, foreign, domestic, and student films. There is a children's film festival and premiere events throughout the year. Call 941-364-9514.
Website: http://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com

Sarasota Arts Council - The Sarasota County Arts Council, a private, non-profit, membership-based organization, is the official designated arts agency of Sarasota County. Their mission is to promote, develop and coordinate the arts in Sarasota County. Call 941-365-5118.
Website: http://www.sarasota-arts.org

Sarasota Blues Festival - Thousands of Sarasota music fans gather each year for the Sarasota Blues Fest. This annual Fall event has included Delbert McClinton, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughn, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Dr. John, Junior Wells, and more great blues musicians.
Website: http://www.sarasotabluesfest.com

Sarasota Music Festival - This annual 3-week event held in June showcases soloist, recitalist and principal musicians from America's leading orchestras and talented students. This series features some of the best in chamber music concerts. Call 941-953-4252
Website: http://www.sarasotaorchestra.org/sarasotamusicfestival/festival.cfm

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art - Affilliated with Florida State University, it is the state art museum and includes 66 acres with 21 galleries of American and European art. The Museum contains over 10,000 pieces of art and the library has a reference collection of more than 60,000 volumes covering all art periods.Call 941-354-1660.
Website: http://www.ringling.org

Ringling College of Art and Design - Founded in 1931, Ringling is a private, independent, four-year college that offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Computer Animation, Fine Arts, Graphic & Interactive Communication, Illustration, Interior Design, and Photography & Digital Imaging.
Website: http://www.ringling.edu

Asolo Theater Company - A professional theater company that performs at the Asolo and in the 500-seat Mertz Theater. Office 800-361-8388.
Website: http://www.asolo.org

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - A purple, seashell-shaped building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This unique performing arts hall presents Broadway musicals, national and international performers, world renowned symphony orchestras and classical, modern and ethnic dance. Some of the entertainers have included Luciano Pavarotti, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, The Boston Pops, The Chicago Symphony, Willie Nelson, and The Temptations.Call 941-953-3368.
Website: http://www.vanwezel.org

Player's Theater - A 70-year-old community theater featuring musical theater, concerts, and other programs. Call 941-365-2494.
Website: http://www.theplayers.org

Sarasota Opera House - Over 40 years of grand performances of Strauss, Verdi, Bizet, and many others. Call 941-366-8450.
Website: http://www.sarasotaopera.org

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