Longboat Key draws people for its beautiful weather and equally captivating beaches, but one of the true jewels of the Key lies in its Arts Center. Nestled in the historic Village neighborhood, the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, a Division of Ringling College of Art and Design, is a mecca for creative minds and artists and art-lovers alike.
The Arts Center was established in 1952, three years before the town was founded, and began its partnership with Ringling College of Art and Design in April 2007. Ringling is a private college in Sarasota that offers degrees in 14 different areas of the arts, including illustration, photography and digital imaging and computer animation.
The Arts Center, which houses the Durante Gallery, Cultural Media Room and many classroom spaces, offers a plethora of different classes, workshops, performances, exhibitions and community events each year. Classes run from January through April and encompass all forms of art, including drawing, painting, jewelry, printmaking, sculpture, photography and more. Workshops are taught by world-renowned artists and offer unique learning opportunities, such as how to paint outdoor portraitures and seascapes — both done using the Key’s picturesque scenery as inspiration. And one of the most popular community events at the Arts Center is its annual Jazz at the Center series, which features top-notch musicians in the area and highlights a variety of jazz forms.
With an ever-changing array of exhibitions, the Arts Center is always an exciting place to go and spend some time, whether you are a resident or just visiting the area. Both local and national artists display their creations at the Arts Center, which gives the organization its unique feel.
The Arts Center’s vision is “creativity, culture and community,” and everything the center does reflects that. Whether you have a free afternoon or sign up for a series of painting lessons, time spent at the Arts Center is unforgettable.
The Arts Center, located at 6860 Longboat Drive S., is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 941-383-2345 for more information.
For those who love learning new things, there is no better place to cultivate that love than at the Longboat Key Education Center.
The Longboat Key Education Center, a non-profit adult enrichment center, provides a wide range of education and recreation classes to residents and winter visitors to Longboat Key, as well as those who live in Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Laura Taubes founded the Education Center in 1985 with the belief that continued learning keeps the mind active and the spirit young. Its mission is to serve “all adults regardless of residence or educational background.”
The Longboat Key Education Center is open from November to April and is divided into three terms: fall, winter and spring. There are more than 150 courses offered, ranging from yoga and tai chi to foreign affairs and book clubs that last from four to eight weeks. All courses are non-credit, and there are no prerequisites for admission. The center also offers lecture series, performing-arts series, one-day workshops and guided day-long trips to interesting places throughout Southwest Florida.
Performances such as live jazz combos, theater performances, piano recitals, movies and lectures from local and national speakers can be enjoyed throughout the season.
Besides the course offerings, performances and lectures held each term, the Education Center is open to the public and features exhibits by local artists and faculty members.
For more information about the classes offered and about the Education Center, visit www.lbkeducationcenter.org or call 941-383-8811.
More Arts and Culture
Sarasota is one of the cultural centers, if not the cultural capital, of Florida. The city is home to some of the
nation’s top performing arts and dance facilities, as evident by the 2.3 million total attendees to arts and
cultural events in the city annually. These venues offer original programming year-round and are always
on the cusp of emerging trends in the arts world.
» The Ringling 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, 359-5700 • www.ringling.org
The Ringling offers 66 acres of beautiful grounds and family-friendly activities. In addition to the Museum of Art, there’s the Circus Museum, Cà d’Zan (Mediterranean Revival winter home of the late John and Mable Ringling) and Historic Asolo Theater.
» Arts Center Sarasota 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 365-2032 • www.artsarasota.org
This member-based art organization opened in 1949. It promotes local arts and art appreciation through educational programs and diverse exhibits of local and international art.
» Asolo Repertory Theatre and FSU/Asolo Conservatory 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 351-9010 • www.aslorep.org
These two theater groups share a partnership but operate separately under the same roof. FSU/Asolo Conservatory is the three-year graduate degree program that offers a season of four productions; the third-year students act in Asolo Repertory Theatre productions. Asolo Repertory Theatre is the professional repertory theater offering a diverse repertoire featuring plays, new works and musicals.
» Bradenton Village of the Arts 1113 12th St. W., Bradenton, 747-8056 • www.villageofthearts.com
Home to 42 acres of galleries and artist dwellings, this community of artists is famous for its small colorful cottages, restaurants and retail shops. The first weekend of every month, the Village of the Arts hosts its Monthly Art Walk.
» Island Players 1009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria Island, 778-5755 • www.theislandplayers.org
This community theater venue operates on Anna Maria Island and offers a handful of live productions in an intimate setting.
» Manatee Performing Arts Hall 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton, 748-5875 • www.manateeplayers.com
This community theater in Bradenton features two theaters as well as rehearsal and classroom space in Bradenton.
» Sarasota Opera 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 366-8450 • www.sarasotaopera.org
Sarasota Opera showcases a full season of opera in the opera house it owns. It offers a diverse repertoire of classic and modern operas, but is most widely known for its ongoing Verdi cycle, in which the opera will play every note Giuseppe Verdi ever wrote.
» Sarasota Orchestra 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 953-3434 • www.sarasotaorchestra.org
What started as a community orchestra in 1948 has grown into a full-fledged professional orchestra. It recently came under the new direction of Anu Tali.
» South Florida Museum 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, 746-2556 • www.southfloridamuseum.org
Learn about prehistoric Florida at the museum, get nose to nose with Snooty, the oldest manatee on record, at the aquarium or head to the outer limits of the galaxy in the planetarium at the largest natural and cultural history museum on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
» The Sarasota Ballet 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 359-0099 • www.sarasotaballet.org
The Sarasota Ballet is the only professional ballet company on the Gulf Coast. It was founded in 1987 and maintains a diverse repertoire of contemporary and classic ballets.
» Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 1-800-826-9303 • www.vanwezel.org
Van Wezel is the largest venue in Sarasota. It seats 1,736 people for a diverse array of music, dance, theater, comedic and Broadway productions.
» Venice Theatre 140 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, 488-1115 • www.venicestage.com
Venice Theatre is the Venice-based community theater and one of the largest community theaters in the United States. It opened in 1950 and offers a variety of entertaining productions.
» Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe 1646 10th Way, Sarasota, 366-1505 • westcoastblacktheatre.org
Established in 2000, this professional company presents world-premiere musicals and award-winning plays in an intimate theatre setting.