Cultural Kiddos

How to Raise Kids Who Love the Arts

Cultivating a passion for arts and culture is easy in our region.

By Abby Weingarten October 27, 2016 Published in the November 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Image: Shutterstock

Maybe you dream of your child or grandchild someday playing in an orchestra or emoting on stage—or YouTube, for that matter. Or maybe you’d just like to make sure he or she learns to appreciate how art can touch our hearts and enlarge our spirits. Cultivating a passion for arts and culture is easy in our area, where theaters, art galleries, museums and opportunities to hear live music of every genre enrich the landscape.

School them in some student productions. The fall and spring semesters are when local high school drama, dance, music and art departments have many visit-worthy productions on their rosters. The Booker High School Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) program (3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, 941-355-2967) showcases musicals and dramas with award-winning student thespians in the casts. (Try Booker Middle School, too.) Having kids watch other kids express themselves creatively is a great way to help them tap into their own potential.

Encourage them to act out. The Florida Studio Theatre School offers excellent classes in musical theater, comedy and playwriting for children ages 5 to 17 all year long (1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-9000). On Saturdays in April and May, the delightful amateur comics of FST’s Kids Komedy Club perform their own sketches in the Goldstein Cabaret; shows are just $6. FST’s annual Young Playwrights Festival lets students in kindergarten through sixth grade submit plays that may evolve into full-scale productions.

In Bradenton, the Manatee Players (502 Third Ave. W., 941-748-5875) produce child-centric shows to either audition for or observe. Asolo Repertory Theatre (5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-351-8000) and Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities (CHAC) have a partnership called Kaleidoscope—a program that allows special-needs students to perform original dramatic pieces for the public. And Venice Theatre has an active roster of acting classes for youngsters, as well as a three-play Generations Series every season that features family-friendly plays with casts made up primarily of students.

Instill some harmony. Kids ages 8 and older can test the upper ranges of their vocal chords by participating in youth choruses and mainstage productions with the Sarasota Youth Opera (61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-8450). Each November, the Youth Opera mounts an ambitious production in the Opera House. And students in grades three to 12 can learn to play an instrument in classical and symphonic concerts with the Sarasota Youth Orchestra (709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-953-3434).

Expand their visual artistry. Hands-on, visually artistic kids will revel in Saturday youth art classes at Art Center Sarasota (707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-365-2032) and the Kids & Clay class at Carla’s Clay on Saturdays, with wheel throwing and kiln firing (1733 Northgate Blvd., Sarasota, 941-359-2773). The Ringling (5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, 941-359-5700) lets museumgoers drop in to create free, all-ages art projects in the Visitors’ Pavilion and Welcome Center throughout the day. Before or after making art, kids can learn about art via the 45-minute Kids Quests museum tours for ages 5 to 10.

Inspire their inner Isadora Duncan. Dance buffs can peruse the calendars at the elementary, middle and high school level for shows, as many student revues (especially around the holidays) grace the cafeterias and auditoriums. For professional productions, look into the line-ups at Sarasota Contemporary Dance (8437 Tuttle Ave., #160, Sarasota, 941-345-5755) and the Sarasota Ballet (5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-359-0099).

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