The West Villages lifestyle means easy access to arts and culture through nearby venues and events. Sarasota County consistently ranks highly as a place to travel for top-notch theater, music, history and even night life. Here are just a few of the things to expect when it comes to Arts & Culture in West Villages and the surrounding areas.
A good place to start when it comes to finding events is on the website of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. It lists upcoming events, jobs in the arts industry and ways to donate.
The Venice Symphony
Each season of this world-class symphony with a hometown feel features seven shows, each with a different theme. The holiday concert is a local favorite and season ticketholders also receive other perks.
The Venice Theatre
For theater-lovers, The Venice Theatre offers the largest community theater per capita in the U.S., with two stages and full seasons of performances. Musicals, dramas and one-act plays are all common to see performed.
The Venice Arts Center
With a central gallery, and four satellite galleries, The Venice Arts Center has a robust array of permanent and visiting exhibits. The Center also offers classes for people of all ages.
Venice Institute for Performing Arts
This program, housed in the Venice Performing Arts Center, offers opportunities for local artists to perform on stage throughout the year. The Venice Institute for Performing Arts (VIPA) has a mission to: “sustain the local arts community through innovative educational programs and inspire the local community with first-class entertainment.” Attending these productions are a perfect fit for parents and kids, or grandparents with their grandchildren.
Clyde Butcher Gallery
Clyde Butcher has an eye for capturing Florida through his camera’s lens and has been photographing it for more than 40 years. His Venice gallery features some of his most famous works, including some that have been on display at the National Gallery in Prague.
The Ringling, the State Art Museum of Florida
Created by circus magnate John Ringling and his wife Mable, the grounds and galleries of The Ringling in Sarasota offer some of Florida’s best and rarest art treasures. The museum houses John Ringling’s personal art and artifact collection, as well a Modern Art section and special visiting exhibits.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
With a Sarasota bayfront location, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens offers horticultural displays with a range of plants. A Children’s Rainforest Garden offers interactive experiences to connect kids with the environment. The Gardens also offer yearly memberships and classes for children through seniors.
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
For world-class entertainment, plan to purchase tickets to shows at the Van Wezel. Each season more than 100 events come to the center, including Broadway musicals, comedians, musicians, symphony orchestras and famous speakers. The Sarasota Orchestra, the Sarasota Ballet and the Ringling Library Town Hall Lecture Series all call the location home.
The Sarasota Opera has been entertaining operagoers since 1960. A $20 million renovation in 2008 recreated the location in a 1920s glamorous opera house style. Community outreach programs, including for area youth, are part of the mission of the Sarasota Opera.
The Sarasota Ballet is a world-renowned organization, under the leadership of Iain Webb. All of the dancers live in the Sarasota area, but herald from all over the world. Over a dozen performances are available each season, with season tickets for sale.
Asolo Reparatory Theater
With around 15 performances per year, the Asolo Repertory Theatre is one of Florida’s most prestigious professional groups. The Asolo Rep performs a variety of theater, from classic works to contemporary favorites, and has original and musical pieces on the program each season.
Florida Studio Theater
Featuring mainstage, cabaret, improv and children’s theatre options, the Florida Studio Theatre offers edgy, progressive theater productions. The theatre area itself is located in downtown Sarasota – with several theatre buildings involved, such as the Goldstein and John C. Court. Expect to see up-close and personal productions, no matter what your theater taste.
The Players Center for Performing Arts
For those interested in trying their own skills on stage, or watching locals perform, The Players Center for Performing Arts offers community theatre options. There are also classes in a variety of stage disciplines.
West Coast Black Theatre Group
The only professional black theatre company on Florida’s West Coast, WBTT produces musicals, comedies, drama and more. A New Playwrights program allows up and coming writers the chance to workshop their works with professional actors, onstage.
Sarasota Museum of Art
With exhibits that change by season, the Sarasota Museum of Art blends avant-garde in a variety of mediums. The works are showcased in conjunction with the Ringling College of Art and Design and serve as a “catalyst for appreciation and understanding of globally significant contemporary art by artists both established and emerging.”