Marco Island Center for the Arts focuses on all ages in an effort to fully engage the community
Now in its 53rd year of service, the Marco Island Center for the Arts brings a wide variety of arts to the island through exhibitions, engaging educational programs for adults and children, and a diverse assortment of events. But more, the Center has worked hard to become an integral part of the vibrant and engaging Marco community.
Since taking over the reins in February of 2014, Executive Director Hyla Crane has worked assiduously to transform the Center into a catalyst for economic development, cultural diversity and community cohesion. At the same time, she and her staff and volunteers exert every effort to make members, guests and patrons feel welcome, comfortable and genuinely appreciated.
“We say that when you cross our threshold, you become part of our art family and we strive every day in every way to be your art home,” states Crane.
Crane employs a ground-up approach that emphasizes youth and children’s programming, including summer workshops and Saturday sessions for middle and high school students, which are free of charge to participants from 5 to 18 years old. So that no child on Marco is left behind, the Center also does outreach to children who can’t make it to their doors for formal instruction.
“We do a program for kids who can’t come to the art center where we create bags of art supplies and then projects we put together, and then they are distributed … with the help of the mobile food pantry here on Marco Island.”
There is also a robust assortment of classes and workshops for adults, but it’s through exhibitions and teaching opportunities that the Center strives to expose the community to latest work by both local artists and leading painters, sculptors and mixed media artists from around the country and abroad.
“We believe we don’t need to do just one or the other, but we can embrace artists from everywhere,” Crane adds.
In addition to art, music, and now theater, there are author talks and presentations, outdoor art shows and even a presenting series of comics, which has proven exceedingly popular.
“Basically if somebody’s got an idea and they want to do it and it has to do with art and culture, we’re willing to work with them and try.”
Currently, the Marco Island Center for the Arts is participating in Arte Viva, which is a countywide celebration of Hispanic art and culture. So for the first time in its history, it has given its member artists a theme for their Members Only Exhibition.
“Our exhibition is entitled Reflections on Kahlo, Diego, Dali and Picasso. It is colorful. It is vibrant. It challenged our artists and it is exquisite.”
There’s still time to see the show, which is on display through April 4.
Crane is especially excited about the next show they’re bringing to the Center.
“We did an exhibition with the United Arts Quilters, which is our quilters who work in both Lee and Collier County, and it was one of the most successful exhibitions – innovative, exciting,” Crane explains. “I think when you work with fiber, the first thing that wraps around us when we’re born is a blanket. I think people respond in a visceral way when it is quilting, when it is work. They want to touch it. It is one of the few times when we have to put signs up that say ‘Please respect that it is art. Do not touch.’”
So from May 8th through July 3rd, the Center will be featuring a traveling show by the Southern Art Quilters Association – or SAQA – that has been drawing huge crowds as it’s traversed the southern states.
The Art Center’s latest move has been to add theater to its repertoire. They took over the space in Marco Town Centre that was previously occupied by the Marco Island Players on July 1st of last year. A mere 11 days later, they announced their inaugural season, which included Apartment 3A, The Odd Couple: Female Version, I’ll Eat You Last: A Conversation with Sue Menger, Plaza Suite, and its current production of Hollywood Arms.
Marco Island is a very special and very specific community,” Crane remarks. “People take pride in their community, the beauty, the history. And we’re excited that we can be a part of providing art and culture, visual and performing arts on what is basically a 4 by 6 mile island. While the size and scope of what we do might be more limited than if we were in a large city, it is our belief that every community deserves a place to enjoy, appreciate and learn about art and culture. Adding performing arts is a natural extension of the work that we do. It is important that Marco have its community theater just as we’ve been able to provide it with its own art center.”
The Marco Island Center for the Arts is located at 1010 Winterberry Drive on Marco Island. For more information, visit their website or give them a call at 239-394-4221.
To read more stories about the arts in Southwest Florida visit Tom Hall's website: SWFL Art in the News.