Downtown Culture Slowly Returns For Season

Todays News

Safety protocols, a reduction in COVID-19 infections and pent-up demand bring another wave on re-openings this week to downtown cultural venues in  the greater Sarasota area. The Venice Symphony will return to an indoor stage this week. And fine dining locales like the Bijou Garden Café reopen their doors weeks after singers kicked off a new season at the Sarasota Opera House.

"Bijou Garden Cafe has always been directly influenced by the arts organizations in Sarasota, not just because the venues are our close neighbors. There is a strong synergy between the downtown restaurants and the theaters,” said Sharon Carole, owner of Bijou Garden Café and of Sage.

It’s a reminder how thorough connected the economy in downtown areas is tied to the cultural destinations.

“We know that so many of the theatergoers are also our patrons. When they plan a night out to see a show, opera or ballet, our restaurants are a big part of that as well. That's one of the reasons why our team has worked so hard to make sure our doors are open as live theater makes its big comeback,” Carole said. “Sarasota is an arts community first, and I believe I speak for all of the local restaurant and business owners when I say I am so grateful and proud to see live entertainment come back."

Further south in Venice, the symphony will return to The Venice Performing Arts Center for performances Friday and Saturday of “Brahms and the Boys.” That kicks off a season running until May. During that time, Music Director Troy Quinn has programmed every concert postposed during the 2020-’21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After being away from the hall and our community of supporters for more than a year, we are beyond thrilled to be back performing live,” said Venice Symphony President and CEO Christine Kasten. “From the musicians to the staff, volunteers and Board, we are committed to making our 48th season a memorable and uplifting experience, showcasing our outstanding orchestra and Troy Quinn’s innovative programming.”

The Symphony is the Center have requirements in place for patrons to wear masks inside of the building. The Sarasota Opera House adopted the #SafeArtsSarasota initiative standards to require patrons show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test administered in the last 72 hours before a show, and is also requiring masks while guests watch performances.

Meanwhile, organizations like Florida Studio Theatre announced plans for family programming. Its “Deck The Halls” event kicks off later this month after a two-year hiatus. Saturday and some Sunday shows kick off beginning on Nov. 27. Masks are required for everyone age 6 and older, and the vaccine-or-recent test rules apply for patrons 12 and older.

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