It’s almost impossible not to notice how Southwest Florida’s arts scene is flourishing. Whether we’re talking about the latest theater production in the world of performing arts or a mind-boggling sculpture that suddenly popped up at a botanical garden, the inspiration and creativity that we are enjoying in just about every neighborhood is really amazing. But more important to me is recognizing the people who are the force behind these projects.
The Florida Repertory Theatre in downtown Fort Myers has been called “one of America’s top repertory companies” by The Wall Street Journal. Now that’s something to applaud—or better yet give a standing ovation! Behind the scenes at the theater is a guy who we don’t really see often, but without him the show won’t go on. Meet Tim Billman ( Let’s Put on a Show, page 27), the production manager, who describes his job as: “I’m basically in charge of everything on stage that’s not an actor.”
If you take a stroll through the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda ( A Blooming Beauty, page 46), you may mistake one of the life-like sculptures by artist Carole A. Feuerman for a real person. Avid art collectors with a penchant for hyperrealism, Roger and Linda Tetrault are building the gardens through their Tetrault Family Foundation and filling it with amazing sculptures and blooms. It’s a place where creativity— gardening and art—can truly blossom.
In addition to major projects such as the theater and the gardens, small businesses are playing a part in the arts scene. Case in point: Denise Ahlstrom, the owner of Karma & Coconuts in Cape Coral ( Kids and the Arts, page 60). For her, art is crucial for children and she backs it up by offering classes and workshops for youngsters as well as their parents.
We also host big events that reinforce SWFL’s commitment to the arts. In September, the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest (Calendar, page 100) brings the talent behind the lyrics to stages on Captiva and Fort Myers. Wannabe songwriters mix with the pros at this musical event in which everyone is welcome to come and enjoy. Then in November, the scribes come to town as authors from various genres present at the Sanibel Island Writers Conference ( Writing Something That Matters, Page 12).
There are many more people in the community influencing our growing arts scene, and I want to thank everyone from actors to artists, production managers to publicists, who make it their mission to promote the arts. I encourage the community to show its support by attending shows, concerts, art exhibits and more. May our artistic spirit continue to flourish.
Daniela J. Jaeger
Daniela J. Jaeger Group Publisher, TOTI Media