Magazine names Sarasota top arts destination for small cities

The Ringling Museum of Art's Art after 5 series received special mention among the readers polled. Photo by Norman Schimmel

AmericanStyle Magazine has named Sarasota the top arts destination among small cities — those with populations under 100,000 — Visit Sarasota County announced May 18.

The honor resulted from the magazine’s 2012 Readers’ Poll, a Visit Sarasota County news release says.

The magazine said the survey found special mention of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s Art after 5 series and St. Armands Circle’s first Wednesday art events.

In 2011, Sarasota came in fifth in the readers’ poll. Asheville, N.C., was No. 1 on that list.

“We are thrilled that Sarasota has received the designation as the No. 1 small city in the nation for the arts,” Jim Shirley, executive director of The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, said in the news release. “This is truly a testament to all the artists, organizations, donors, volunteers and civic leaders who call this wonderful community home.”

Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County (, added, “The collaborations between The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County and Visit Sarasota County, along with the arts and tourism industry as a whole, are what makes this recognition so meaningful. Seeing the Gulf Coast of Florida have so many communities included in this list — Bradenton as No. 2, and Naples as No. 9 — makes the accolade even more impactful,” she said in the release. “For years we’ve known we’re the ‘Cultural Coast,’ and that message is resonating loud and clear within our communities and beyond.”

AmericanStyle Magazine is “a consumer magazine focused on contemporary craft, craft collectors and other artists who create studio craft,” according to the website of its publisher, The Rosen Group (

The magazine has been published since 1994, the website says.