The "Cultural Coast" for Performing Arts

Arts | Culture

 “The Performing Arts Capital of the Gulf Coast”

The Sarasota Region is also called the “Cultural Coast” and we have an incredible talent pool to work with to support the performing arts.  Many professional performers retire and are drawn to the area thanks to all of Sarasota’s arts offerings. These professionals bring their experience, training, and often extensive resumes with them to our stages throughout the area.


Asolo Repertory Theatre

Florida’s oldest theatre company.  The Asolo Repertory Theatre or Asolo Rep is the largest repertory theatre in the Southeastern United States. Asolo Rep is a resident regional theatre company which also invites in guest artists. It works in conjunction with Florida State University's MFA Acting Program, the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.

It is currently housed in the Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts, which is a multi-theater complex, located on the Ringling Museum of Art property. The 2008–2009 season marked Asolo Rep's 50th anniversary.

Florida Studio Theater

Foremost among many contemporary theatre productions. Founded in 1973, FST has grown to a village of five theatres located in the heart of Downtown, Sarasota.  Each theatre is small in size and large in impact — providing intimate and engaging settings for high-quality, professional performances. Today, FST has established itself as a major force in American Theatre.

FST is the largest subscription theatre in the State of Florida and among the largest in the country, serving more than 230,000 live attendees each year across its diverse programs: Mainstage, Cabaret, Stage III, Children’s Theatre, FST School, New Play Development, and FST Improv.

Sarasota Ballet

Founded in 1987, it is the Gulf Coast’s first professional ballet company.  In 2016, the renowned Joseph Volpe, former General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, took on the role of Executive Director of The Sarasota Ballet.

The Sarasota Ballet’s expansive repertoire, coupled with the athleticism and artistry of the Company’s dancers, has brought the Company national and international acclaim.

With rave reviews in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalDance Europe, Dancing Times and numerous other publications, The Sarasota Ballet has been invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, at City Center and the Joyce Theater in New York City, and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires, Massachusetts.

Sarasota Opera

The Gulf Coast’s first professional opera. This historic building is rich in history and a masterpiece of architecture.   In the 1920s, the building quickly became a popular entertainment venue with major performers such as Will Roger (in 1927) and the Ziegfeld Follies(1928) appearing there.

The world premiere of Cecile B. DeMille's "he Greatest Show on Earth" (which had been filmed in Sarasota) was shown there in late 1951, attended by its stars Charlton Heston and Dorothy Lamour. Elvis Presley performed a concert there on February 21, 1956.

Sarasota Symphony Orchestra

As the oldest continuing orchestra in the state of Florida, each year the 76-member Orchestra performs more than 100 classical, pops, chamber music, and community outreach concerts. Since 1949, Sarasota Orchestra has inspired and entertained music-lovers across the region and visitors from around the world.

A cultural leader in a city known for its vibrant arts community, Sarasota Orchestra’s threefold mission is dedicated to exquisite performance and first-class musical education.

Venice Chorale

Promotes the art of choral singing through vocal excellence and multi-generational education. The Venice Chorale was formed in March of 2002. The Concert Choir began with over 60 auditioned singers and grew to almost twice that size over the years. The choir members are all unpaid volunteers, as are the members of our Board of Directors. 

Now celebrating 20 Years of Harmony, we have become one of three major arts organizations of the Venice Performing Arts Center, along with The Venice Symphony and the Venice Concert Band.

Venice Symphony

Professional orchestra offering a variety of concerts and educational programs.

Venice Theater

One of the largest and most active community theatres in the United States.  When the then-Venice Little Theatre mounted its first production in the 1950s, it did so in a borrowed building, operated entirely with volunteers, and its only revenue came from sales of the $2 tickets.

Today, Venice Theatre is per capita, the largest community theatre in the United States, with a professional staff and an honored place in the history of Venice, Florida.

Westcoast Black Troupe Theater

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) was founded in December 1999 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Our mission is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists and builds self-esteem in youth of color.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Center

A landmark Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation performing arts facility.  A true pioneer in the cultural development of Sarasota, the Van Wezel presents a broad spectrum of the world's finest performers representing the diverse tastes of Southwest Florida residents and visitors.

Each season, with more than 100 events, the Van Wezel has carried on the long tradition of presenting spectacular Broadway musicals, top national and international performers, popular comedians, world-class symphony orchestras and a compelling mix of classical, modern and ethnic dance.

The Van Wezel also hosts more than 50 performances and events presented by the Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Ballet, the Sarasota Concert  - Association and the Ringling Library Town Hall Lecture Series.

SCF Neel Performing Arts Center

Since 1966, the SCF Neel Performing Arts Center has served as a cultural center for Manatee and Sarasota counties hosting both College and community-sponsored events.

Manatee Performing Arts Center

Manatee Performing Arts Center is committed to being the community’s premier theater and the region’s center for cultural, educational and artistic expression. They work tirelessly to ensure they deliver engaging excellence for all ages.

Sailor Circus Sarasota

Known worldwide as “The Greatest ‘Little’ Show on Earth,” the Sailor Circus is America’s oldest youth circus, having been seen by more than 1 million spectators!  The Academy provides a rigorous after-school circus training program where students ages 8-18 learn to develop life management skills, gain self-discipline, bolster confidence and a commitment to achievement, all in a safe and nurturing circus atmosphere.

Players Centre for the Performing Arts

The Players Centre for Performing Arts and keeping the community engaged with the arts. The Players seeks to provide an artistic outlet for locals and visitors alike to experience live theatre and live theatre training.

Urbanite Theatre

Urbanite Theatre is an award-winning professional theater located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, FL. They produce thrilling new works in a fully flexible black-box theater, the most intimate venue in the region.

McCurdy's Comedy Club

McCurdy's Comedy Theatre was established in Sarasota/Bradenton Florida in 1988. Their new facility is a 7100 square foot purple building located in the heart of Historic Downtown Sarasota's East End at the intersection of Ringling Boulevard and Washington Avenue. The theatre was completely remodeled to create a world-class showroom devoted to the art of Stand-up Comedy.

Straz Center

The performing arts complex consists of five distinct theaters, a rehearsal hall, retail shops, on-site restaurants and banquet facilities. The five individual theaters are Carol Morsani Hall (2,600+ seats), Ferguson Hall (1,042 seats), the Jaeb Theater (292 seats), the TECO Energy Foundation Theater (250 seats and the Shimberg Playhouse (130 seats). 

With the Patel Conservatory, the Straz Center has added 45,000 square feet or its extensive education programs. The Conservatory features 20 studios, including two dance studios with sprung floors, a sound/lighting laboratory, technical theater workshop, rehearsal hall, costume shop, isolation/sound booth, black box theater and media arts/TV studio. 

Amalie Arena

With a wide array of venues spread throughout the United States, it can be difficult to find one that distinguishes itself from the others. That is not the case with the renovated AMALIE Arena, Florida’s premier entertainment venue and home of the three-time Stanley Cup champions, Tampa Bay Lightning. From 2011-2013, AMALIE Arena had more than $62 million in improvements that have clearly revolutionized the industry and made it the premier entertainment venue in the State of Florida.


Ski-A-Rees is a water ski show team that performs in Sarasota, Florida. They are the 2017 National Champions.  The team was founded in 1957 and has since become one of the most popular water ski shows in the United States. The team's home base is on Lido Beach in Sarasota.

Ski-A-Rees is made up of over 100 volunteer skiers who perform a variety of tricks and stunts on the water. These include barefoot skiing, pyramid formations, and jumps over ramps. The team also performs a number of choreographed routines set to music.

The Ski-A-Rees perform free shows every Sunday afternoon from February through May, as well as select holiday weekends throughout the year. They also offer private shows for groups and events.

In addition to their regular shows, the Ski-A-Rees are actively involved in promoting water safety and providing instruction to aspiring water skiers. The team has a youth program that teaches children as young as 6 years old how to water ski.

The Circus Arts Conservatory

The Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC) in Sarasota, Florida is a renowned institution dedicated to the preservation, education, and advancement of the circus arts. Founded in 1997, it has played a significant role in promoting and celebrating the circus traditions in the United States.

The Conservatory's mission is to cultivate and honor the legacy of the circus by providing exceptional training, outreach programs, and world-class performances. It serves as a hub for circus artists, students, and enthusiasts to learn, collaborate, and showcase their skills.

The CAC offers a wide range of educational programs and training opportunities for all ages and skill levels. Their professional training programs focus on disciplines such as aerial arts, acrobatics, clowning, juggling, and balancing acts. The conservatory works with experienced instructors who have extensive backgrounds in the circus industry, ensuring that students receive high-quality instruction.

One of the notable programs offered by the CAC is the Sailor Circus, which is the youth training program. Established in 1949, it is one of the longest-running youth circus programs in the United States.

The Sailor Circus provides comprehensive training for young performers, giving them the opportunity to develop their skills and perform in front of live audiences.

In addition to training programs, the CAC is known for its captivating performances. They produce a variety of shows throughout the year, including the annual "Cirque des Voix" collaboration with the Key Chorale, which combines the artistry of the circus with live choral music.

The Circus Arts Conservatory is also actively involved in community outreach initiatives. Their outreach programs aim to inspire and empower individuals from all walks of life by introducing them to the circus arts. These programs often reach out to schools, social service agencies, and various community organizations.

The organization operates out of The Circus Arts Conservatory building in Sarasota, which includes training facilities, a black-box theater, and administrative offices. The building serves as a central gathering place for the circus arts community in Sarasota and acts as a vibrant hub for creativity and collaboration.






The "Cultural Coast" for Performing Arts

Arts | Culture

The "Cultural Coast" for Performing Arts

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