Cultural Pursuits

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Sarasota’s endless variety of theater, music and performing arts offers something inspiring and entertaining nearly every night of the year. Savvy social butterflies clutch detailed calendars to keep all the dates straight. One of the season’s highlights is the Sarasota Film Festival, which brings the Hollywood glitterati to town for more than a week of […]


Sarasota’s endless variety of theater, music and performing arts offers something inspiring and entertaining nearly every night of the year. Savvy social butterflies clutch detailed calendars to keep all the dates straight.

One of the season’s highlights is the Sarasota Film Festival, which brings the Hollywood glitterati to town for more than a week of parties and special event screenings. The best of independent and international films can be found at the Sarasota Film Society’s Cine-World Festival.

On a different stage, our world-class symphony, international chamber festival, acclaimed opera, ballet, and jazz club all attract international artists. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, fresh from a dazzling new coat of its signature purple paint, delights audiences with a diverse calendar of singers, Broadway plays and musical guests, while both professional and community theaters pack the house with dramatic, musical and comedy selections.

Creating a new crop of performing artists are the arts programs at the University of South Florida; the state’s honors college, New College of Florida; and Ringling School of Art and Design, a four-year design and arts institution.

THEATER

The Backlot, 2211 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Cooperative arts and education facility including a new professional theater.

Banyan Theater Company, 358-5330. Professional company offering three productions June-August.

The FSU Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 351-8000 or 351-9010. Home to professional Asolo Theatre Company, FSU/Asolo Conservatory of Professional Actor Training and Sarasota Ballet of Florida. Mainstage schedule of plays runs from November to June.

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. 366-9000. Professional contemporary theater presents four mainstage plays each winter season plus cabaret season next door, with new three-play season at third stage at the Gompertz Theatre. Also staged readings of new plays and special season each summer.

Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, 25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. 366-5454. Cocktails, buffet dining and a professional Broadway musical. Schedule runs year-round.

Manatee Players, 102 Old Main St., Bradenton. 748-5875. Community theater presents 11 plays per season beginning in August.

The Players of Sarasota, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 365-2494. Area’s oldest community theater offers six musicals per season, September-April, along with special events and summer offerings.

Venice Little Theatre, 140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice. 488-1115. Community theater presents six mainstage plays per season, October-May; also Stage II and Theatre for Young People productions.

Westcoast Black Theater Troupe, 364-2242 or 954-4651. African-American company, presenting four shows this season.

MUSIC, DANCE & POETRY

Florida West Coast Music Inc., 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 953-4252. Under this umbrella heading are the bi-county Florida West Coast Symphony; chamber groups Florida String Quartet, New Artists Piano Quartet, Florida Wind Quintet and Florida Brass Quintet; several Youth Orchestras; and annual Sarasota Music Festival in June.

Gloria Musicae, 954-4223. Professional chamber chorus presents several concerts per season.

The Jazz Club of Sarasota, 330 S. Pineapple Ave., Suite 111, Sarasota. 366-1552. Club promotes and perpetuates jazz year-round with jams, members’ concerts and educational programs; annual Jazz Festival at Van Wezel each spring.

Key Chorale. 921-4845. Ensemble performs great choral masterworks.

La Musica International Chamber Music Festival, 364-8802. International chamber music festival takes place in April, with daily rehearsals open to the public and concerts at the Sarasota Opera House.

Sarasota Ballet of Florida, 552-1032. Company performs a mostly classical repertoire, September through April, at FSU Center and Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

Sarasota Concert Band, 1345 Main St., Sarasota. 364-2263. Band performs monthly concerts of show tunes, marches, free summer concerts in area parks.

Sarasota Opera, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. 366-8450. Four professional productions of operas offered in each winter at the Sarasota Opera House.

Sarasota Poetry Theatre/SoulSpeak, 535 Columbia Court, Sarasota. 366-6468. Live poetry performances.

Sarasota Pops, 795-7677. Four pops concerts are presented each year.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 953-3368. City-owned performing arts hall presents a full season of music, dance, theater, children’s programs and more; primary season is October-May. Student and teacher discounts available for classical concerts.

Venice Symphony, 488-1010. Classical and pops concerts presented in Venice.

CIRCUS

Circus Sarasota, 355-9335. One-ring circus presents performances Feb. 4-27 under the Big Top at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds.

FILM

Sarasota Film Festival, 508 Central Ave., Sarasota. 364-9514. Annual film festival offers several days of new movie screenings downtown each January, some premieres.

Sarasota Film Society/Burns Court Cinema, 955-FILM or 364-8662. SFS presents international films in its Burns Court location in downtown Sarasota. Also sponsors November Cine-World Festival.

ARTS EDUCATION

Manatee Community College, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton. 752-5000. The Fine and Performing Arts department at MCC includes instruction on art, photography, film, music and theater. Many local students begin their artistic education here, then proceed to four-year institutions like New College and Ringling School of Art and Design.

New College of Florida, 5700 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 359-4700. An innovative, award-winning, four-year liberal arts school.

Ringling School of Art and Design, 2700 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 351-5100. Four-year professional art and design school, offering graphic and interior design, computer studies, fine arts, illustration and photography.

Sarasota Arts Council, 1226 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 365-5118. Organization that promotes, develops and coordinates the arts in Sarasota County.

University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee, 5700 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 359-4200. More than 20 full-degree programs, including arts and sciences.

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