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Guest Commentary: BIG ARTS looks ahead

January 18, 2017
By Don Rice , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The BIG ARTS board of directors, staff and all our wonderful volunteers thank our members and supporters whose investment in BIG ARTS future will insure its vitality for many decades to come. What began 38 years ago with a handful of visual artists gathered on the beach to share their work and support each other's creativity, has grown into a vibrant, bustling community of Sanibel and Captiva citizens whose participation and commitment to service sustains our continuing quest to satisfy the cultural, artistic and educational passions and needs of our citizens.

Today 90 percent of BIG ARTS audiences and classroom participants reside on our islands. While BIG ARTS' role in realizing the Civic and Cultural Core Project (CCP) for our community will not continue, what does is our steadfast commitment to assuring BIG ARTS future. The board of directors began the programmatic and physical site assessment of BIG ARTS more than five years in response to pressing physical needs and the expressed needs and preferences of our patrons. Three years ago BIG ARTS was invited by the city to consider joining a larger vision: the creation of an integrated cultural and civic campus that connects multiple town resources, provides lovely green spaces, honors the islands' special charm and natural beauty, and offers solutions to pressing building, traffic and access challenges. Regrettably, the full Sanibel citizenry did not get an opportunity to hear more about the true nature of the CCP, or to vote. We salute and thank the many volunteers and our leadership partners, Center 4 Life and SCA, whose hard work and dedication these past years was singularly focused on bringing that option to our community for full review.

However, BIG ARTS picks up where it left off in pursuing the exciting opportunities it began exploring back in 2012 to make sure it is always an integral part of the beauty, grace and vitality of our islands; and, further, that the board continues to exercise due diligence in forging a path forward that honors BIG ARTS history and continues its tradition of providing a creative and educational resource that enriches all our lives.

Stay tuned for some exciting updates as we move forward in realizing those objectives, creating physical site improvements that will stand the test of time, and fulfilling the needs and expectations of our growing number of ticket buyers and registrants. In the meantime, we hope to see you soon at one of many enriching, inspiring and entertaining BIG ARTS events from free Sunday afternoon jazz in the beautiful Boler Garden, first-rate professional theater, and hundreds of workshops, to community discussion and lectures, fine art exhibits, films, and performances by some of our country's finest artists and all right here in our "own backyard." Whatever your passion, creative energy or educational interest, there is a place for you to experience it at BIG ARTS. We look forward to seeing you soon!

-Don Rice, Chairman of the Board, BIG ARTS



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