I’m so proud to be part of the Goodland Arts Alliance, a tiny, yet phenomenally effective, organization that is dedicated to its mission to “preserve, promote, and advance, the cultural presence in the Village of Goodland through art, history, and education.” I am proud and honored – my fellow GAA members are dedicated, focused, and hard-working souls with a tenacity that exceeds rationale.
Sunday, March 8, 10:00 – 4:00, the GAA, a 501(c)3 cultural non-profit, along with Collier County Parks and Recreation, is sponsoring the 3rd annual outdoor Harbor Arts & Music Festival at picturesque MarGood Harbor Park in Goodland. Professional artists and musicians gather to support the GAA in its celebration of multiple milestones achieved in the mere two and a half years since its formation. This juried-arts event is to date the foremost fundraiser for the organization.
The GAA holds a long-range goal to establish a permanent home in a set of historic fishing cottages embraced by the boundaries of MarGood Harbor Park. In January 2015, through a petition filed (and doggedly pursued) by the GAA, the Board of Collier County Commissioners officially designated these buildings, some dating back to the 1920’s, as Historic Structures. This monumental decree paves the way for the organization to lease the cottages from the County, restore them at its own cost, and repurpose them as a cultural center for the benefit of the community and visitors alike. The County supports our endeavors and has decreed it an estimable example of public-private partnership. As do we. Final lease negotiations are under way.
MarGood Harbor Park has great historic and environmental significance. The property was purchased by the County with Florida Forever funds in 2005, and today native-landscaping and lovely walkways wrap around a charming harbor-front venue. The historically precious cottages, hallmark to Goodland’s identity as a fishing community within Collier County, have sat abandoned behind a chain-link fence for over a decade. Shameful for a region that has already obliterated most of its pioneer history.
But the tide is about to turn. And the folks turning it are ordinary hard-working folks who have volunteered tirelessly for a goal that they were just too inexperienced to know couldn’t be reached. And they’re doing it with the support and guidance of like-minded individuals who actually have the wisdom of experience: County Commissioner Donna Fiala; attorney Craig Woodward; Theresa Morgan, CPA; and a slew of County representatives and preservation advocates. And those are the people I am so proud to stand with, to work with, and to laugh with when it all comes together.
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at www.taraogallery.com.