Upcoming Plans for Our Cultural Centers

Besides world renound beaches, Sarasota is known for its cultural center. We have an orchestra, ballet, performing arts, amateur theater, cabaret, and so much more. In the upcoming years, many of these venues are moving or getting a much needed facelift. 

Pictured above is the new building for The Players Center for Performing Arts. For decades, it had been situated in an older building on the Tamiami Trail, just north of downtown Sarasota. Their temporary home is in The Crossings at Siesta Key while they await the construction of their new home in Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch. 

The plan is to have over 4 acres of space housing a theater with over 400 seats and a smaller theater of 150 to 200 seats for more intimate shows. A new addition will be a meeting and social space as well as an education and training studio. They have an ambitious 26 million dollar goal for this and have already raised over 5 million. This is a volunteer theater, so if you would like to give, you may do so here.


Mote Marine is moving its science center from Lido to the UTC area. Construction has already begun and an opening of 2023-2024 for guests. If you've talked to me at all about things to do in Sarasota, I've sent you here. They have a wonderful education program and the aquarium is staffed by volunteers. The summer program for kids is one of the best around, in my opinion. 

According to Michael Moore, Mote SEA will provide an annual economic impact of $250 million, with 260 direct and indirect jobs anticipated. Mote SEA will support plentiful new exhibits, with 1 million gallons total of animal habitat, offering hands-on teaching labs, onsite dive programs, and expanding research facilities greatly. For all of you penguin lovers, we will now have about a dozen Humboldt penguins in the new space. Learn more about Mote Marine and donate here.

You've probably heard me talk about the Bayfront 2020 project, which has been going on for a couple of years now. Born out of a need for a space to accomodate larger productions, the Bay Park Conservancy has lofty goals. The Conservancy is overseeing the development of a 53 acre, bayfront site with parks, pavillion, performing arts halls, outdoor performing areas, and an education center. The star will be a new 230,000 square foot performing arts center. To learn more about it go here. 

Selby Gardens Master Plan is another personal favorite. I loved going to the gardens as a teen, saw many friends get married there, and am lucky enough that a typical Christmas gift from my dad and step-mother is an annual pass. How could I not love it? The wandering gardens, koi pond, holiday decor, and amazing classes are a draw for many. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are right on Sarasota Bay, housed on land donated by Marie Selby at her death. Her former home is still on the grounds and is home to art installations. 

Gardens’ president and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki says that Phase 1 includes a new welcome center, a cutting-edge plant research center with herbarium lab and library, and restoration of the historic Selby House. Three phases in all, the plan will eventually encompass a new, hurricane-resistant glasshouse collection, an indoor/outdoor learning pavilion, and a full historic renovation of the Payne Mansion, which serves as a museum. It’s designed, Rominiecki says, to create a “world-class destination for plant research, conservation and environmental education, the demonstration of eco-friendly architecture and landscape design, and the first-ever net-positive botanical garden complex in the world,” with new stormwater purification methods and a solar energy plant. More open space, an edible garden/café and other improvements aim to provide a model for sustainability. For more information, go here

The Asolo Reperatory Theater Koski Center has new plans on Tallevast Rd. And, like all of our cultural areas, there is a need for more space. Performers and staff had often been told to "duck" while rehersing and working because of the low ceilings. The first phase will have an entry trellis, comference room, and will join two of the currently existing builings for more space. What excites performers most is the rehersal hall that will accomodate full set pieces, something they've been unable to do. 

The Asolo will have enough room to rent out space to for rehersals. They will also be able to bring in bigger productions and producers from New York and Chicago. More hit Broadway productions have originated in regional theaters like Asolo Rep in the past decade or so; this season’s Hood, for example, presented by arrangement with part-time Sarasota resident and Broadway producer Tom Kirdahy (Hadestown), is one that may well go on to productions in New York and elsewhere. Learn more about the Asolo here.

Sarasota has its own orchestra. They have been hoping for a new venue for years so they wouldn't be tied to the Van Wezel. They have to share the schedule with traveling shows, and other local productions. A venue of their own would allow them to bring more orchestral peformances to the area. 

Unlike the other areas, the Sarasota Orchestra is in the infancy of change. They are studying areas that will accomodate growth in the area. They also support a youth orchestra, which needs space. Plans include a hall large enough for grand performances such as Bethoven, Strauss, and other classical composers. 

Unlike the other venues, they have no budget because they are still looking for a location and will then engage donors and envision the new facilities. To learn more, read here

Sarasota is more than just beaches. We are rich in culture and our residents heartily support it. 

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