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EDITORS' PICKS

 

 

Best Architectural Restoration: Sarasota High Building No. 4

 

Give an A-plus to the Sarasota County School District for its $8.5 million restoration of Sarasota High’s historic Building No. 4, designed in 1959 by master modern architect Paul Rudolph, who spent his early career here. The newly gleaming bright white, low-slung geometric building that houses SHS’s science department teaches us a valuable lesson about preserving our architectural heritage. 1000 S. School Ave., Sarasota. sarasotacountyschools.net

 

Best New After-Theater Hangouts: The Green Room at FST and The Starlite Room

 

Theater aficionados have two new places to mingle post-show. Florida Studio Theatre’s Green Room Late Nights (Friday and Saturday until midnight) offer a full bar and after-hours menu. The Starlite Room, which replaced the Broadway Bar, welcomes guests to its Sardi’s-like space, which includes a bar transformed from a bowling alley lane. The Green Room, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-9000, floridastudiotheatre.org; The Starlite Room, 1001 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota, (941) 702-5613, starlitesrq.com

 

Best New Science Playground: Suncoast Science Center

 

Don’t call it a museum: The Suncoast Science Center is an educational playground, where kids and adults alike can explore science, technology, engineering and math through an ever-changing collection of hands-on exhibits—including the “Fab Lab” for fabricating anything you can dream up. It’s in the old SCTI building, but organizers plan to relocate to a permanent 60,000-square-foot space soon. 4452 S. Beneva Road, Sarasota, (941) 840-4394, suncoastscience.org

 

Best New Home Tour: Sarasota MOD Weekend

 

The Sarasota MOD Weekend presented last October by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation brought lovers of modern architecture to our town for three days of lectures, workshops, trolley and boat tours, all in celebration of the Sarasota School of Architecture. We’re already looking forward to this fall’s event Nov. 6-8, which will focus on the work of modern architect Paul Rudolph. sarasotamod.com

 

Best New Arts Facility: Venice Performing Arts Center

 

This $15 million arts venue on the Venice High campus lived up to all expectations when 1,000 people swarmed into the lobby after the ribbon cutting. A state-of-the-art home to concerts by the Venice Symphony, Venice Concert Band and choral group Exsultate! as well as the school’s performing arts programs, VPAC is a proud addition to Venice and Sarasota County as well. 1 Indian Ave., Venice, (941) 480-3191, veniceperformingartscenter.com

 

Best New Festival: SaraSolo Festival

 

You’ve got to admire the guts it takes to stand up, all alone, on a stage and perform your heart out. This new festival,

the brainchild of Sarasota actress Ann Morrison and former Sarasotan Blake Walton, started small, celebrating the art of the one-person show with about 15 different acts at the Crocker Memorial Church. You were bound to find something you liked. Stay tuned for news of next year’s event at gottavan.strikingly.com. (941) 323-1360.

 

Best New Edgy Theater: Urbanite Theatre

 

Even before it opened its doors just a couple of weeks ago, theater fans were buzzing about this new downtown space, founded by two FSU/Asolo Conservatory grads to provide an intimate spot for the kinds of shows (think brand-new, cutting-edge works, often with adult themes) they felt couldn’t be seen elsewhere locally. Fingers crossed enough audience members are ready. 1487 Second St., Sarasota, (941) 321-1397, urbanitetheatre.com

 

Best New Sports Event: Sarasota Music Half Marathon

 

Billed as a “13.1-mile moving party,” February’s Sarasota Music Half Marathon gave runners and spectators a unique treat: Fifteen live bands, from hip-hop to country, lined the route, adding up to more live music than any other half marathon in the country. The kicker? A 65-piece high school marching band played on the Ringling Causeway. It’s almost time to start training for next year’s event: Feb. 7, 2016. sarasotahalf.com

 

Best New Architectural Energy: The Center for Architecture Sarasota

 

More to celebrate for lovers of our rich architectural heritage: The Center for Architecture Sarasota has polished up the midcentury modern Scott Building and turned it into the new home of the UF School of Architecture’s CityLab-Sarasota, which will bring graduate students here to study “issues of emerging technology, culture and climate responsive architecture” that relate to the Sarasota School of Architecture. 265 S. Orange Ave., Sarasota, (941) 350-5430. cfa_srq.org

 

READERS' CHOICE

 

 

Best Festival or Special Event

 

Sarasota Chalk Festival

 

Forks & Corks, Sarasota Film Festival

 

Best Fund-raising Gala

 

Van Wezel Foundation Gala

 

Firefly Gala; Wine, Women & Shoes

 

Best Performing Arts Group

 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

 

Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Opera, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

 

Best Place to Hear Local Bands

 

5 O’Clock Club

 

Blue Rooster, Gator Club

 

Best Place to Meet Singles

 

Libby’s Café & Bar

 

Social on First, White Buffalo Saloon

 

Best Controversy

 

Homelessness

 

Roundabouts, Unconditional Surrender statue

 

Best Tourist Attraction

 

Beaches

 

Mote Marine Aquarium, The Ringling Museum of Art

 

Best Local TV Personality

 

Bob Harrigan

 

Scott Dennis, John Scalzi

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