Bursting with Life
Manatee County's cultural community is bursting with life, with everything from modern venues and an acclaimed art museum to theatrical, musical and dance troupes calling this area home. Thanks to such leading organizations as the Manatee County Cultural Alliance, ArtCenter Manatee, the Arts Council of Manatee, Manatee Players, the Artists Guild of Manatee, Village of the Arts, Palmetto Art Center and a multitude of other related entities, the area's arts and entertainment scene is well supported and continuously expanding.
Prominent Arts & Entertainment Venues
A number of significant entertainment venues, offering a variety of events and opportunities for rentals, are located throughout the county. The Municipal Auditorium in Bradenton and the Manatee Convention Center in Palmetto are optimal for special and private events, while art classes, exhibitions, workshops, lectures and additional events are found throughout the year at ArtCenter Manatee, Palmetto Art Center and the Longboat Key Center for the Arts.
The Neel Performing Arts Center at State College of Florida is a true cultural center, seating nearly 840 for an assortment of community events and productions, including the favorite six-concert Masterworks Series. The north side of the building is home to the modern Chamber Theatre, which houses the SCF student theatre company.
Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall features a 1,736-seat facility welcoming a wide range of performances each year. Symphonies, dance companies, jazz performers, Broadway shows and more can all be discovered here. The hall also offers a number of educational and outreach programs to the area.
Bringing international art attention to the region, the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art is an architectural and cultural gem. Nestled on the 66-acre Ringling Estate, the museum was established in 1927 and is recognized as the official State Art Museum of Florida. Inside, patrons will find 21 galleries highlighting European, Asian and American artwork, along with modern and contemporary pieces of art.
A must-see for art lovers is the Village of the Arts, Bradenton's vibrant arts district. Hailed as the largest art community in Florida, the Village is a collective group of artists of all disciplines who live and work in one district.
There is certainly no shortage of high quality theatre in the area. The Manatee Players delivers the best in live theatre - a distinction that is evidenced through the number of prestigious awards the troupe has accumulated over the years.
The Powel Crosley Estate offers visitors excellent productions of some of the greatest authors and playwrights in literary history - all while providing stunning views of Sarasota Bay from this rustic 1920s mansion.
Exceptional theatre is also found through Anna Maria Island's Island Players Community Theatre and the Asolo Repertory Theatre, a professional troupe offering performances at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Music & More
A variety of music and dance companies travel through Manatee County, with several established right in the area. The Sarasota Orchestra, the oldest continuously running orchestra in Florida is located downtown. Four resident chamber ensembles join the Orchestra to provide approximately 75 concerts each year. Musical classes, workshops and the renowned Youth Orchestra Program are also offered.
Opera followers will relish the performances by the Sarasota Opera, while further musical entertainment can be discovered through the 90-member Sarasota Pops Orchestra and the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra.
Music enthusiasts will not want to miss the Sarasota Music Festival, which is held for three weeks each June and showcases the chamber music of 40 internationally recognized artists and other performers.