By Noelle H. Lowery
The Cultural Alliance of Marco Island and Goodland (CAMIG) has announced its first three collaborative educational and fundraising programs beginning early next year.
The local coalition of seven not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations banded together in April to “be a unified voice promoting cultural awareness and activities that enhance the quality of life on Marco Island and Goodland.” The first of these activities is scheduled for February, when The Marco Players Theater will join forces with the Naples Holocaust Museum and the Marco Island Historical Society and Museum to present a three-tier educational program focusing on the play “The Interview.”
Then in March, the Marco Island Center for the Arts and the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts are joining together to present “Art Is Not for the Birds,” a celebration of Marco Island’s feathered inhabitants as represented by area artists. Finally, in April, the MIHS and Center for the Arts will present “The Way We Worked” and “Work It 24/7.”
“We want to educate people,” says CAMIG President Beverly Dahlstrom, who also is the artistic director for The Marco Players. “We want people to have a continuing conversation.”
“All For One…”
These first programs are the result of nearly a year of cooperation and planning amongst the seven member groups, which include the Marco Island Historical Society, the Goodland Arts Alliance, the Marco Island Center for the Arts, the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts, The Marco Players Theater, The Island Theater Company and the Greater Marco Family YMCA.
The idea for the alliance developed out of a chance meeting between Dahlstrom and Bruce Graev during Leadership Marco 2013. The two commiserated about the difficulties of working with a cultural 501(c)(3) in a small community — namely budgeting, local government support and visibility in the community. Along with Dahlstrom’s work in the theater, Graev is an active member of the Center for the Arts and MIHS.
“We asked how do we best work with what is around us…We are all competing for voice, media, government…We thought why don’t we work together,” remembers Graev, now CAMIG vice president.
With a strength-in-numbers mentality, group members agreed now was the best time to unite, and by April 2014, CAMIG was formed. In September, the alliance held a strategy session, created its mission statement and voted for officers. The group continues to work on its own 501(c)(3) status as a not-for-profit organization, establish by-laws and create the criteria for membership, sponsorship and its advisory committee.
“There was a time when everyone didn’t get along,” notes Graev. “We realized in unity, we have some strength. It is much better working together. We don’t want to be competing with each other.”
Dahlstrom took up the baton to create the first collaborative program focusing on the play “The Interview,” which is about a Jewish tailor who survived the holocaust. The play will run at The Marco Players Theater, Feb. 11-March 1.
Dahlstrom was so moved by this play that she felt it afforded the perfect opportunity to create a true joint educational program about the Holocaust. She approached Amy Snyder, executive director of the Naples Holocaust Museum, and gave her a copy of the play. “We talked and decided that having the ‘box car’ on Marco Island during the run of the play would be an educational way to share about the Holocaust,” Dahlstrom says.
Then, she enlisted the folks at the MIHS and MIHM. With immediate support from Pat Rutledge, Graev and other board members, it was agreed that the ‘box car’ will be on the grounds of the MIHM during the run of the play. Additionally, MIHM plans to show the documentary “Paper Clips,” the story of middle school students in Whitwell, TN, who as part of their study of the Holocaust, tried to collect 6 million paper clips representing the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. Additionally, the Center for the Arts and The Marco Players will present a special performance of “The Interview” in the Center’s gallery on Feb. 23.
“Other organizations in CAMIG have asked how they can participate,” notes Dahlstrom. “We are working with them now.”
Next up on Sunday, March 8, at 5 PM, is “Art Is Not for the Birds,” sponsored by the Center for the Arts and the Foundation for the Arts. Set to be held at Cozumel on Cape Marco Drive, the evening will celebrate the human fascination with birds, and showcase the role art plays in capturing their beauty. “Art Is Not for the Birds” will enable artists to use their talents to capture the magnificence of some of Marco’s greatest treasures with beaks and wings.
The event includes cocktails, cuisine and entertainment, and will feature a live auction of 15 paintings of assorted sizes. All artists will be members of Marco Island Center for the Arts or Marco Island Foundation for the Arts. There also will be a silent auction consisting of 15 hand-painted decorative mailbox elements known as nature brackets.
“Artistic renderings of indigenous and endangered birds raise the public awareness of these creatures splendor and their fragile existence,” says Hyla Crane, executive director of the Center for the Arts and CAMIG secretary.
In April, MIHS will host “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit that explores the importance of work in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years.
The exhibit, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, draws from the Archives’ rich photographic collections to tell the story of work in American culture. Why, where and how we work? What value does work have to individuals and communities? What does our work tell others about us?
While this exhibit is at MIHS, the Center for the Arts will host an exhibition entitled “Work It 24/7,” which will explore working on Marco Island.
With these programs in the hopper, work continues on the alliance’s website and unified master calendar, which will create a single portal for all news and events about CAMIG’s seven member groups. Visitors to the site will be able to check out the calendar to see which organization has an upcoming event, and then they also will be able to link directly to that group’s web site.
CAMIG also continues to define and shape its mission in the community. The first step is to bring more state grant money into Marco Island’s cultural and artistic arena through the state’s Division of Culture. “There is $45 million out there,” notes Graev.
Crane got the ball rolling, and already has one grant pending before the state. It is one of 10 slated for Collier County. The Florida Legislature will decide who is worthy during the upcoming legislative session. Nearly 100 percent of these grants were funded last year.
“When you start ramping up to state money, you become more of an arts advocate,” says Crane. “We want our voices heard.”
The second step is to remind the community that arts and culture “are not just nice but necessary,” and that begins with working with City Hall. CAMIG officers already have met with City Manager Roger Hernstadt, and they are planning to go before City Council as well.
“There are many things on the island going on that could impact us,” Graev emphasizes. “We are working to keep the city in the loop and educated.”
These efforts are important, Dahlstrom insists: “When you don’t support arts organizations, they will go. They will either run out of funding or they will disappear…We have to zero in and make them focus.”
CAMIG Member Organizations
Marco Island Historical Society
Goodland Arts Alliance
Marco Island Center for the Arts
Marco Island Foundation for the Arts
The Marco Players Theater
The Island Theater Company
Greater Marco Family YMCA