The annual 12-day festival began Oct. 23 with several performances and award presentations at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Some call Sarasota the cultural capital of Florida. Others like to boast its title as the “No. 1 Small U.S. City for Art” given by AmericanStyle magazine in 2012.
Regardless of its ranking or reputation, it’s a fact that Sarasota has a plethora of creative outlets for all art-lovers. From its international arts festival and state art museum to its bayside performance venue that attracts many of the biggest names in American entertainment every season, the arts play a vital role in Sarasota culture.
That’s why the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County started InspireSarasota!, a 12-day celebration of local arts and culture.
The alliance began the festivities with A Celebration of Arts and Culture, which provided a sampling of a few acts that residents and tourists alike can enjoy this upcoming season. Choral Artists of Sarasota, Michael Mendez, Sailor Circus and Venice Theatre all performed, and the alliance’s Executive Director Jim Shirley served as master of ceremonies.
In between acts, Shirley introduced the winners of several arts awards and grants. Sarasota County awarded 39 arts organizations with a 2017-2018 Tourist Development Cultural/Arts Grant. Musica Sacra Cantorum, New World Celts, North Port Chorale, Sarasota Jewish Chorale and ensemblenewSRQ received Opportunity Grants from the alliance, and Roger Real Drouin, Mirella Martinelli and Nathan Skiles received the John Ringling Towers Fun Awards.
The 2017-2018 Arts Leadership Awards went to Sharon and Steve Dickman, Michael Shelton, Jennifer Rominiecki, Elizabeth Lindsay, Joseph Holt and Richard Storm.