Back in the dark ages, before the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center and Art Walk, there was Miami. Yes, we drove from Sanibel to Miami Beach throughout the season to attend Broadway shows. We had a community orchestra and the Community Concerts held at the old Exhibition Hall in Fort Myers, but there wasn’t much else, artistically speaking.
Today we have blockbuster shows at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, intimate performances at the Davis Center, delightful productions at the Florida Rep, and arts and craft shows all season. We have our very own, fully professional Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. We socialize with others who care about the arts and introduce the next generations to the things that make life more meaningful. Who needs Miami?
We have built this arts community through our common interests, our volunteer hours and our financial support. Those of us who provide sponsorships bridge the gap between ticket sales and the actual cost of professional productions. Professional organizations like the Southwest Florida Symphony couldn’t exist without sponsors, donors and advertisers.
What does this mean to our community? First, we offer employment to musicians, actors and other artists who do what they love but need to be paid to do it. We instill in our young people an awareness of the artistic richness that our schools no longer adequately provide. And we surround ourselves with a cultural environment that enhances our lives. When we take grandchildren to a play, purchase a piece of artwork at a show or attend a symphony concert, we’re making Lee County richer in many ways.
Many years ago, when the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra went fully professional, we had no idea whether the community could support a “real” orchestra. This coming season, the 55th, your orchestra will present 23 concerts, providing an income to more than a hundred professional musicians.
That Lee County can embrace both the fully professional Southwest Florida Symphony and an amateur orchestra, as well as multiple other musical organizations, demonstrates how far we’ve come. Please join TOTI Media and the rest of us in supporting the arts in our community.
Tom and Linda Uhler have been full-time residents of Sanibel since 1977. Their interests include the environment, education and the arts. Tom is serving his third term as board chair of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and his firm, Uhler and Vertich Financial Planners, sponsors numerous artistic and other charitable causes.
Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra Tom Uhler