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Arts and Entertainment Sunday, May 20, 2012 10 years ago

Sarasota Ranked #1 Destination for the Arts in AmericanStyle Magazine's Annual List

by: Jessi Smith

Move over, Asheville. There’s a new small city in focus at the center of the United States’ arts radar, and that city is Sarasota.

AmericanStyle Magazine announced the Top 25 Cities for Art (ranked by population into three categories of small, mid-sized and large). Sarasota skyrocketed to first place on the list, with Bradenton hot on its heels claiming the #2 spot.

AmericanStyle Magazine publishes quarterly, and each summer issue features the lists of top destinations for the arts in the United States, based on feedback from reader polls. In the small cities category, which includes all cities with populations less than 100,000, Sarasota was ranked #5 for the past two years. Bradenton trailed somewhat behind Sarasota at #10 in 2011---although any spot in the top ten is a perfectly respectable feat, especially considering the "Friendly City" sat at #22 in 2010.

This year, however, Sarasota ascended to first place, bumping out two-time winner Asheville, N.C., which was praised in last year’s polls for its “funky, eclectic and whimsical” art scene. Bradenton stole the second place title from Santa Fe, N.M., whose 250 galleries, numerous art museums and abundance of Native American art made it the #2 small city destination for the arts in both 2010 and 2011.

It is also notable that for the second year in a row, St. Petersburg claimed the #1 spot in the mid-sized cities category.AmericanStyle gives a nod to the John and Mable Ringling Museum’s "Art After 5" series for promoting the arts in Sarasota and being responsible for helping the city achieve its status as the top small arts destination in the country.

In addition, events such as the Sarasota Chalk Festival, Harvey Milk Festival, Ringling International Art Festival, Sarasota Blues Fest, Sarasota Film Festival and The Fabulous Independent Film Festival---to name just a few---showcase the tremendous support for the arts in Sarasota.

In Bradenton, the recent energetic efforts of Village of the Arts and organizations such as Realize Bradenton to promote local arts and culture through festivals such as ArtSlam, Festival sARTée and the Bradenton Blues Festival caught the attention of the public, who voted fervently to ascend the city eight spaces on the list to the coveted #2 spot.

Congratulations Sarasota and Bradenton. Keep creating!

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