News Stories of the Arts, in Naples

FGCU Art Galleries plan full season of shows, with some twists By Drew Sterwald

The FGCU Art Galleries have reframed some exhibitions planned for the 2020-21 school year and postponed others in light of COVID-19-related complications and safety precautions — which currently include limiting gallery visitors to students, faculty and staff until further notice. Nevertheless, the art will go on.

“We’re essentially maintaining the number of exhibits planned, but the content will change,” explained Gallery Director John Loscuito.

Spring graduate Meg Brunner discusses her senior project in The Wasmer Gallery. Photo: James Greco/FGCU

As the galleries move forward with installed as well as virtual projects, they usher in the new season with a look back showcasing last spring’s graduating seniors, who had to forego their traditional moment in the spotlight earlier this year. Art majors’ senior projects are being displayed through Sept. 3 in the Wasmer Art Gallery and the ArtLab; digital design majors will have their projects exhibited Sept. 18-Oct. 1 in Wasmer.

Private receptions were being held for parents, administration and faculty to recognize graduates’ college-career crowning achievements. At the end of their studies, art majors are required to develop and present a coherent body of self-generated work. The senior project combines their knowledge of techniques and concepts while drawing on research of historical and contemporary artists.

You can read more about each artist’s projects on the galleries’ website. One of those featured, Meg Brunner, said she found it “rewarding and exciting” to finally see the exhibit come together after a challenging final semester. “With the COVID delays we weren’t even sure if we were going to have an exhibition at all,” said Brunner, who has been getting her career off the ground as a freelance photographer and graphic designer since graduating.

Tanner Yorchuck in front of his work “Storm Squad.” Photo: James Greco/FGCU

“Senior project is such a defining moment for students in the art program because it’s a way for us to showcase who we are as artists and put all of our skills that we’ve been taught to the test. Being able to share this moment with everyone has been amazing. All of the stress and long studio nights feels so worth it when I look around the galleries and see all of the incredibly meaningful work my classmates and I were able to create.” Plans are already in place to showcase December’s graduating seniors with an online catalog and videos of the artists.

In the meantime, the annual alumni exhibition will feature Eagle grads collaborating virtually with current students to create a printed project. “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To An Exhibition…” will begin with 2018 grad Chloe Lewis teaming up with 2009 alum Steven “Rusty” Coe — online, because she’s a freelance illustrator living in New York City and he’s an independent woodworker and installation artist in Sebring. Florida.

“They will be creating a physical and online ‘zine of their work against a backdrop of adaptability and how to deal with change,” Loscuito said. “They’ll be creating that in September and then we’ll invite the student body to contribute images to that ‘zine and layer them into the artists’ images in October. We’ll print that in November and give it to contributors and our donors. That’s a really responsive way to change from a physical exhibition. How can we create something that’s still engaging to students and alumni but do it virtually and still have a physical object at the end?”

Heather Couch’s “Untitled” installation incorporates ceramics and wool. Photo submitted.

In the midst of the pandemic’s unpredictable impact on operations, no one can see what lies months ahead, but “When We See Further” is still scheduled as an installation to run Oct. 16-Nov. 19 in the Wasmer Gallery. The group exhibition of sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing and painting features four south Florida artists collaborating for the first time: Heather Couch of West Palm Beach, Marina Font of Miami, Renee Rey of Naples and Terre Rybovich of Homestead. The exhibit explores themes of self-image, physical and psychological connection, impermanence and spirituality.

Artists referencing the body is a topic Loscuito and Assistant Curator Anica Sturdivant had been discussing for a few years. They already had connections with a couple of the artists, and a series of studio visits convinced them the foursome would complement each other in a group show.

“None of the artists had worked together before,” Loscuito said. “Some knew of each other, but they did not know each other personally. After the studio visits, Anica and I discussed inviting all four artists to talk about the possibility of an exhibition. These discussions led to the exhibition we have planned.

“We intend to install it — we can’t capture it with just (one-dimensional, digital) images. We will have an opening virtually with a small group in one of the studios asking questions to the artists. People will be able to join online and ask questions. These are timely narratives.”

“The Eternal Spring,” a triptych in acrylic on canvas with gold leaf, by Francheska Castano of. Photo by James Greco/FGCU

Another topical, multifaceted collaboration involving California artist Travis Somerville, the Black History Museum of Fort Myers and FGCU had been planned for the spring semester. It has been postponed until the 2021-22 school year, when it is hoped that such cooperative projects can happen more effectively without coronavirus-related constrictions. “He really likes to involve the local community,” Loscuito said.

Somerville’s work delves into social injustice and the economic and political structures that perpetuate oppression, racism in America, the refugee crisis and the current global political environment, according to his website.

A rotating exhibit of pieces from the galleries’ permanent collection will take the place of that show, incorporating hands-on workshops for students on matting, framing and hanging artworks. Meanwhile, Loscuito holds out hope that conditions will allow for fully public shows and receptions for the galleries’ much-anticipated annual rites of spring: the juried student show and the senior projects exhibit.

The Naples Players…Discover Culture in Collier

Discover Culture in Collier, a 7-month outdoor entertainment season presented by The Naples Players (TNP), is the latest development in an effort to continue safely providing arts and culture programming while coronavirus concerns still linger.

The season will feature live music, theatre, art and other monthly events utilizing a number of Collier County parks and outdoor attractions as the backdrop, the first of which are Drive-In Movies in downtown Naples starting in September.

TNP Drive-In Movie Nights will feature two movies each month projected onto a 33-foot screen using a state-of-the-art projection system. The events, sponsored by The Inn on 5th, are hosted in the newly refinished 50-car lot located at 300 8th Street South, just one block north of the iconic 5th Avenue South home of The Naples Players community theatre. The movie soundtracks will be broadcast over short-range FM radio to the cars in attendance.

The series begins with a 2-night screening of the musical movie Grease, on September 8th and 9th, followed by Jurassic Park on September 22nd and 23rd.  Movies begin promptly at 8 p.m. Concessions and non-alcoholic refreshments are available for purchase.  Due to space, ticketing is required in advance.  A full schedule and tickets are available online at:

General admission is $45 per vehicle; but Current TNP season ticket holders receive free admission on select “Season Ticket Holder Nights.”  Additionally, current members of The Naples Players or Season Ticket Holders who want to attend the other movie evenings can purchase tickets for $20.

Additional outdoor entertainment events as part of the Discover Culture in Collier series are slated for announcement in early September. Information about the full season of events will be found at:

“This shift in our season will not replace the revenue lost, nor will these experiences replace the joys of live theatre. But it’s most important to us to keep the arts, and our community’s spirits, alive by providing opportunities for people to safely experience culture together,” said TNP Executive Artistic Director, Bryce Alexander.

The Naples Players temporarily closed their doors on March 12th in response to COVID-19.  Since then, the non-profit theatre had endured losses of more than $1.25m in lost revenue, ticket refunds, and season ticket sales. Even so, TNP has maintained its full staff and has been working to provide critical arts education and community building throughout this difficult time.

For more information visit or call the box office at (239) 263-7990.


The Naples Players is a non-profit community theatre committed to the enrichment, education, and entertainment of our community through a superior theatre experience. For more than 67 years, the theatre has served as the cultural jewel of Downtown Naples,  Florida.

For sponsorship opportunities contact Executive Director Bryce Alexander –  239-434-7340 Ex 124






When Myra Janco Daniels read about all the cuts to arts programs in our schools, she wanted to make sure that the arts were supported in the Latchkey Children’s curriculum. Upon opening the Fran Cohen Youth Center on The Salvation Army campus, she participated in developing their programs to include dance, music, art, theater, pottery, culinary pursuits and communication  classes.

The Center has a large music room which houses three pianos, ten keyboards and private lessons are given on these instruments along with bass and guitar by our volunteers. They have a choir and drama classes. They have performed for their parents and volunteers at various events.

In the Child Development Center, the children are encouraged to participate in  Kindermusik, which is a wonderful program to help learn new skills and discover new ways to explore and develop their own creativity. The Center has its own pottery wheel and kiln and the students are taught by Joan Eshkenazi, a well-known potter and artist.

Latchkey League volunteers work closely with the children to create pottery. They are very proud of their pieces and displayed them at our Latchkey League meetings. A full commercial kitchen is available and classes in culinary cuisine are taught by Miss
Beth. They learn food preparation and the components of healthy diets. Added to these opportunities is a dance studio, art room and a computer lab for homework and creativity.

Tutors are also available for school assignment help. In the main room is The Book Nook, a very popular spot with the children. Children explore the wonders of reading, can borrow books and volunteers are on hand to help with their selections and/or read to them. Many of the books have been donated by individuals and by Books for Collier Kids.

Another very important component of the program is recreation. The Salvation Army has built a large playground on their campus for this purpose. The fence around the play area is to be decorated with acrylic butterflies in different sizes and colors. Latchkey Members and their friends have been given the opportunity to purchase one with their name or name of a loved one imprinted on them.

The largest butterfly is 15” x 10” and is $500; middle size is 15” x 8” and is $250. The smallest butterfly is 11” x 18” and is $100. If you are interested in supporting this project, please call Judy Tedder, President of the Latchkey League, at 239-254-0843.

Your support of these Latchkey Children is important to their futures and to ours because today’s children are our future.


The Naples Players has called itself a “theatre for the community” since we were founded 67 years ago. It is this very creed that has kept The Naples Players operating –even in an augmented form – during these challenging times.

Like many people, our first impression of COVID-19 came from social media. So, too, did our first act of community service.

The Naples Players utilizes more than 650 volunteers for more than 66,000 volunteer hours every year. After understanding that the theatre would have to shut its doors to performances, Resident Costume Designer Dot Auchmoody saw a Facebook post containing a pattern to build surgical masks. She quickly realized that this was a way the costume staff and volunteers could continue to utilize their skills.

A call was placed to the local hospital, and an offer made to use any of our remaining bolts of fabric to create surgical style masks. The hospital requested 300. It was only a matter of days until the hospital called, needing as many masks as had already been created.

Combining the effort of the staff in alternating shifts at the theatre, volunteers were also able to contribute – and were given “take-home” kits to continue making masks at home.

Word quickly spread about our efforts, and a local printing company offered to use their laser cutters to cut the fabric patterns of the masks. This collaboration allowed high-precision, high-output capacity of the masks while furthering our business relationships – all the while continuing to engage and train our volunteers.

Online improv class for students from the STARability Foundation

We continue to make masks today, providing them to hospitals, nursing homes, and others who may need them.

This effort was utilized in the scene shop, too: when Assistant Technical Director Chase Lilienthal realized he could use leftover plexiglass to create intubation boxes, a critical shield for protecting doctors and nurses when intubating patients.

A simple pattern was built, and the boxes have become another added tool to help protect our community’s heroes.

At the same time, our Education Department began to think of the impact this crisis would have on students. Serving more than 1,200 students on-site in classes every year, we know that the social and imaginative access our programs provide our students would be critical to their at home education.

In only one week, all of the education programs, for every age and level, were modified and moved to electronic formats. Not only has this provided the students continuity and connection, it has inspired the theatre to evaluate ways to bring virtual classes to underserved populations in the future.

Intubation box made by Naples Players

Parents have been overwhelmingly thankful for the outlet this has provided. Adult students crave the voice the classes provide as well.

To date, The Naples Players has served more than 1,160 students through more than 48 virtual programs since COVID-19 began.

The Naples Players has made news in the past for creating a “Director of Community Wellness and Education” to connect arts education with wellness programs, and since COVID-19 began, The Naples Players has served more than 320 students with disabilities through 14 programs with 10 different partner organizations.

Finally, we’ve been able to utilize our technical departments and artists to create digital content that continues to promote the arts and engage with our community.

Live-streaming concerts have been viewed by 8,000+ people, featuring local artists and recently featured graduating high school seniors.

The Naples Players has seen more than $850,000 in ticket impact due to cancelled performances through June.

The endowment saw its value fall by more than $1.5M since this crisis began, though it has mostly recovered.

The financial impacts of this shutdown will be deep. Reliance on the generosity of our community is going to be crucial.

Most importantly, we know our patrons, donors, and volunteers are embracing our position as a theatre for community – and together we will all get through this.

WELCOME BACK to Naples Art

Naples Art welcomes you back!

At Naples Art we believe art can change lives and improve entire communities. Through our unique and engaging programs, classes, exhibitions, and events, Naples Art enhances community-wide appreciation for and understanding of the visual arts and supports artists of all ages and aspirations.

After a challenging spring and summer of being closed due to Covid-19 and then major A/C issues, we can’t wait to get back into the swing of things! The upcoming season at Naples Art is going through its final touches and is going to be brilliant! We have spent the summer diligently working from home on how we can  best serve and provide the arts and culture that our community is seeking and so deserves.

We are adding to the mix of what is offered and refining our current offerings in a fantastic way, including moving many new options online. From online classes and workshops to our gift shop, exhibitions and art shows. To inspire more artists to develop their talents and incubate a cultural revolution in Collier County, Naples Art is proud to be in its second year of spearheading the Art Business Entrepreneur (ABE) program for adults, providing professional development workshops and lectures allowing artists of all disciplines to develop and refine business skills that sustain their place in an evolving arts industry.

The added marketing opportunity will allow them to expand their reach and showcase their work. Learn more about the ABE Program here:

In addition to training artists in the art of business, Naples Art also prides itself in continuing to offer a sought after array of art
instruction for beginners, hobbyists and advanced practitioners. We offer more than 200 professional studio classes and workshops in painting, drawing, ceramics, mixed media, glass, jewelry, and more for adults and children, all taught by seasoned instructors. Register for classes at

Kathryn Knight of Naples,  Florida, Migrant Farmer, 2018, photograph, 20 x 20 inches

Our exhibition roster is making room for some very interesting new and unique opportunities to be featured alongside our most beloved annual exhibitions, including Camera USA® . Our national outdoor shows continue to win the most prestigious awards given to outdoor art shows across the country, with all three shows being awarded the prestigious Sunshine Artist’s 200 Best for 2020.

25th Annual Naples New Year’s Art Show
January 4 – 5, 2021, from 10 AM to 5 PM, Saturday and Sunday on 5th Avenue South. Featuring artists from across the country and overseas. September 8th is the deadline for artists to apply.

42nd Annual Naples National Art Show
February 22 – 23, 2021, from 10 AM to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday at Cambier Park & 8th St. South. Featuring artists from across  the country and overseas. October 28th is the deadline for artists to apply.

33rd Annual Naples Downtown Art Show
March 21-22, 2021, from 10 AM to 6 PM Saturday and 10 AM to 5 PM Sunday on 5th Avenue South. Featuring artists from across the country and overseas. December 8th is the deadline for artists to apply.

Our Grand Finale of the year, an absolute must-not-miss, is our Scene to be Seen event on November 6th that opens Naples Art’s 67th season and Celebrate the Arts Month. “This truly is the most unique event Naples has to offer. The energy and creative expression this event provides, will transport you to the likes of the Met Gala,” said Aimee Schlehr, the Executive Director of the Naples Art.

Experience this exclusive night of intense creativity, extreme inspiration and extraordinary vision at the 2020 Scene to be Seen – Runway Art Show, to be held at Naples Art. This extraordinary event elevates haute couture to spectacular works of art in a classic luxury runway fashion format.

The 2020 Scene to be Seen tickets are available through the Naples Art website at Availability for on-site attendance is very limited while the virtual streaming and watch party options are unlimited. First come first served on Naples Art floor seats for event.

These are just a few of the incredible list of things to come, we can’t wait to share more in the coming months. For more
information about any of the above, please visit us at

Naples Art has been at the forefront of the Arts & Cultural landscape of Naples since 1954. Our Mission is to enlighten, engage, educate, and enrich the community and to build on Naples Art’s history and position of leadership as a hub of visual arts in Southwest Florida. Come visit us today.

Seminole Family Man and Traditional Artist

by Tina Marie Osceola

Artists create. They see the world differently and it seems as if life’s current events are nothing more than a palette of inspiration. As this global pandemic continues, I find myself drawn to the pages of artists. I have found hope in their hands, their minds and their voices. When researching this article, I turned to a handful of local Seminole artists and asked questions about traditional art. I wanted to know their inspiration, downtime, their lives as artists. One artist stood out…

Pedro M. Zepeda. Pedro was born and raised in Naples. He graduated from Lely High School in 2001 and from Stetson University in 2005, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in… go figure… Art! For those who know Pedro, he is rarely seen without one or all of his four children in tow.

He and his wife, Kaleena, live in Golden Gate while surrounding themselves in the art and culture that is indigenous to this land. Pedro is known for his kindness,  compassion and for having a heart as big as his stature. Seminole traditional art has a very broad definition, but generally includes; Seminole patchwork and applique, baskets, wood carving, leatherwork, beadwork, chickee building and silverwork.

Pedro is a master at all of the above and then some. His art is found in museums across the state and private collections
all over the world. I asked Pedro about being a traditional artist and staying busy during these last months, “I’ve always been surrounded by art since I was a child. When I was very young my grandmothers would watch me while my parents were at work. They were always sewing, doing beadwork and often cooked outside over the fire.

On some weekends the family would sell their traditional arts at festivals and powwows. As I became a teenager I began to make some of our traditional arts myself. As an adult I really immersed myself in our arts to refine them as much as I could. To me it’s important for traditional arts to be functional, beautiful, and at times innovative. For me having learned traditional arts means having a certain level of independence. There’s always something to make!”

Lately, Pedro has focused on woodcarving and dugout canoes. He is only one generation away from a time when dugout canoes were used as a means of transportation. Cypress logs are carved and hewn out and when dry, they will float even when filled up with people and provisions.

Rather than sitting and using short paddles, Seminole dugout canoes were primarily used in shallower waters and navigated by standing up in the canoe and pushing the canoe along with a long pole.W hen asked about staying home during this pandemic, Pedro said, “It’s been interesting being home so much. Normally from December to May I travel with my family around the Southeast to different events and festivals to demonstrate Seminole traditional arts.

Being home has allowed time for catching up on things I’d normally put off,  like  maintaining my tools, but has given me time to reflect on what I do and where I want to go from here in all aspects of my life. My wife and I have four children and the two oldest (10 and 9) are old enough to begin learning to make some of our traditional arts. Being home more during this time does allow this to happen more frequently than it might otherwise.”

It seems only natural that Pedro would want to make sure the art is passed down to his children. The Seminole lifeblood flowing through his veins was passed to him from his grandmothers and family, “One of my biggest inspirations in my traditional
arts journey has always been my Grandmother, Tahama Osceola. She’s always encouraged me and took the time to teach.

I think one of the most important things she taught me was how to learn through observation. Woodcarving  I learned from Ingram Billie Jr. I began to learn about dugout canoes from my older brother, Brian Zepeda. All my teachers led me down those paths, but it was up to me to continue down paths of learning. Our traditional arts are so much more than simple objects, they carry the teachings and knowledge of our ancestors. I’m excited that I can pass on the knowledge that I’ve been carrying onto my children.”

ART after DARK

We are blessed! We are surrounded by nature’s beauty and have a number of artists who creatively translate  this  beauty in their own mediums and styles that offer works to adorn our indoor environments.

Over the past many months, it has become more obvious how important the Arts are in our lives. Music helps create a mood that can help our days feel more upbeat and productive. Virtual productions can satisfy a need for the theatrical and visual art, need I say, can offer a scene to look at to start each day in an uplifting way that is priceless for our mental faculties. Art is a basic necessity that happens to be prevalent in the Naples area.

When searching for that painting that can brighten your days, be sure and check out Crayton Cove, by the Bay, where a few of Naples hidden treasures can be found. Random Acts of Art offers a wonderful selection of 3-D arts and special gift items that are decorative and practical. Phil Fisher Gallery features watercolors and oils painted by Phil Fisher, Jan Ellen Atkielski, Jeff  Fessenden, Lionel Heddy, Janet Kirby and Kevin Barton, who paint en plein air, focusing on Naples and its natural environment.

This time of the year, Phil can be found painting in the gallery as the weather makes it less comfortable to be out on location.  Guess- Fisher Gallery showcases batiks and pottery by Natalie Guess, photography by Nolen Fisher and Kim Hambor and pet portraiture by Tianna Fisher. Shows of works are changing monthly with August featuring paintings of “Nature’s Beauty”, while September offers “Inspirations of Summer”.

The month of October, images that depict “Living The Dream” are gracing the walls of the Phil Fisher Gallery. We aren’t able to have show openings still, so please stop by and visit where 8th St S & 12th Ave S meet at the flagpole, during open hours and “find your new favorite painting!”

To get a sneak peek, new paintings are also featured on Instagram @philfisherfineart.

life in the facet lane – Spice Things Up!


Diamond lovers are an enthusiastic bunch. Now more than any other time in history, diamond collectors can indulge in an ever-expanding smorgasbord of varieties. There are fancy color diamonds in a rainbow of exciting hues. Don’t forget those treated diamonds, and even lab diamonds. Then there are diamonds in the rough–stones in their original crystal form. The more the merrier, we think. Buy what you like.

But at this moment, let’s put the loupe on a trending variety that’s gathering fans across the globe. We’re talking about salt and pepper diamonds. If you haven’t heard of them before, you’ll want to. For one thing they offer unlimited individuality and personality in spades.

Simply explained, salt and pepper diamonds are genuine earth mined stones with distinctive looks characterized by naturally occurring white and black inclusions. Because they are natural, no two are alike. And isn’t that what everyone wants in their diamond? While they have abundant or minimal beauty marks which define their category, they are still—like all earth mined stones, both rare and valuable.

1.18ctw salt and pepper  diamond  engagement ring; 14K yellow gold;  Courtesy Aurora Designer

Salt and pepper diamonds are finding favor with brides who want a blend of tradition with a modern vibe. But these stones are found in more than just bridal jewelry. They make stunning earrings and other jewelry items. Because these diamonds are so distinctive, they become a charming muse when paired with a classic setting. But these rebels-in-stone are also the perfect complement in an original designer mounting. They are pure win-win in the character department.

Nokomis, Florida based designer-owner of Aurora Designer, Jo Deng finds salt and pepper diamonds to be a very on-trend addition to her imagination collection of original jewelry. The fact that each stone has its own appeal adds an extra layer of spice to the pieces she creates.  Today’s collector wants jewelry conveying the personal expression of its wearer. We think you might consider spicing things up with a salt and pepper diamond that reflects your unique vibe.

Old as the saying is, we know that variety still is the spice of life!

Contact Diana Jarrett at and read

Artists are Essential by Kristine Meek and Juliana Meek

Dear Artsperts,
Scrolling through my social media feed, I saw the results of a recent survey asking which occupations are essential and which
are non-essential. Artist topped the list for non-essential, above telemarketers and HR managers. As an art dealer, how would you

Essentially Wondering

Dear Essentially,
This type of survey is unfair in and of itself. After all any profession is essential to the person employed by it and supporting themselves (and possibly others) off the income of that chosen profession. Taking a deeper look at artists, and in particular visual artists, we can see that throughout history art has played a valuable role in capturing and interpreting moments of significance. To contemporary viewers, these works help process emotions and perhaps ease anxieties. To future viewers, these works reveal perspectives helping to deepen the understanding of historic moments.

“Storybook Hill” by Adolf Dehn (1895-1968), watercolor, 20”x 30” 1960 Paintings provide a window of escape, including a visit to Italy, from the safety of our homes.

During the Great Depression, artists were deemed so essential that the Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed an estimated 10,000 artists to create murals, paintings, sculpture and more to capture emotions of the time and to help give hope. Thomas Hart Benton being one of the most famously known WPA artists for his Depression Era murals. A number of artists represented by Harmon-Meek Gallery over the years were also employed as WPA artists, including Will Barnet, Adolf Dehn, and Byron Browne.

During the same period of time, Picasso famously captured the bombing of Guernica, depicting the agony and pain and providing a prelude to the coming atrocities of World War II. “Guernica” is ranked as the fifth most Google searched painting, proving the work’s continued importance to this very day.”


“Suns under the Moon” by Reynier Llanes, oil on canvas, 60”x 48” 2020 “During difficult times it is easy to get caught up in fear and to retract from humanity. “Suns under the Moon” puts humanity and love as the central focus of
the pandemic and reminds us what is truly important.” – Reynier Llanes

Reynier Llanes is a contemporary artist who is carrying the torch from those important artists of the 30’s. His subject matter often delves into current events of historic significance, including the current pandemic and racial unrest. According to Llanes, “Art holds a mirror up to society, reflecting its interests and concerns while at the same time challenging its ideologies and preconceptions.”

In addition to the significant and historic role artists can serve during hardship, art also simply provides an escape. Critics of this survey deeming artists as the most non-essential profession have pointed out that most people won’t be so quick to terminate their Netflix and Spotify subscriptions.

Similarly, visual art in a home provides interest and comfort. We may not be able to visit Italy at the moment but a painting of Italy can transport us there in our  imagination and memories. Paintings can be the windows to the world during a time when we must stay at home.

The Artsperts  

599 NINTH STREET NORTH SUITE 309 | NAPLES, FL 34102 | 239.261.2637

The New World of the Arts

Claudia Polzin
Independent Consultant

Surviving many crises in our country this Summer has not been easy –and as we continue into the Fall with great uncertainty – one thing is certain that the world as we remember it will probably not return as soon as we had
hoped. One area of our world that had the ability to provide peace, escape and solace – the arts – has definitely suffered and it will be difficult for these venues and artists to return to what we previously enjoyed.

As we began to hear of cancellations around the world the pandemic became more real – it not only affected our personal enjoyment, but the livelihood of many of our friends. With many venues cancelled through all of 2020 it becomes more problematic.

Many organizations worked feverishly to bring concerts in a virtual manner – one that has brought joy to many is the Lincoln Center with their Memorial For Us All series – this series was built on the principle that music unlocks thoughts, feelings  and memories that unite and free us. If you are longing to hear some of your favorite artists go to their website and enjoy some time of peace and musical enjoyment. But this also begs the question – is this the face of concerts of the future?

This is the huge issue – singular artists with a few collaborators can do virtual concerts easier than orchestras and choral groups.
The challenges are many for these groups – how do they protect the performers, the audience and the staff that works? It is hard for us to image that an orchestra, a choral group – cannot practice as a group – it is not possible for them to practice with social distancing. Without practice there cannot be a concert or a production. So when will we see a full orchestra on the stage again? Or will it be like the Barcelona Opera House who had a string quartet on stage – social distanced – and played to an audience with all of the seats occupied by live plants.

We add another dimension – we the audience are becoming weary of Zoom meetings and virtual events. A question that is being asked by many in the entertainment world – would the audience be willing to pay, even a nominal fee, for a virtual concert? While the performers want to provide entertainment for their fans, they also need to be able to earn a living with their craft. Can small groups do “driveway” concerts and have individuals purchase tickets?

One might think that when we return to live concerts that the easiest venue would be our own Cambier Park – for the audience  they  will be able to sit in family groups and social distance from others – but what about the performers – they cannot social distance. This is the challenge that is being faced by all performance groups.

As this pandemic started, I was challenged to find ways for my own church to safely open for live worship services. The challenges
that churches face for their live services and their concert services are the same ones being faced by performance venues. One thing
that I learned through all of the studies that have been conducted is that talking spreads many droplets that potentially carry the
virus and worse than just talking is singing. So a service without a choir, congregational singing and responsive reading is not a
service that we are used to – but that is the reality of this virus.

Being a part of an audience that collectively reacts to what they are seeing and hearing is part of the joy of a live performance – but  not being able to sit with your friends and only seeing a small group performing – is that we want? So most likely not only will
the venues have to make major adjustments to what happens on stage but what happens in the audience.

So as we move forward in this new world – we will have to adjust our expectations and enjoy whatever the new normal will bring  us. Please stay well and stay safe and do everything you can do to not only protect yourself but your friends and neighbors.