Message from Executive Director and Chairman of the Board
BIG ARTS, and our entire community, has been challenged beyond measure. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, we have all had to gather the strength and courage to rise above a cataclysmic event that has forever changed our Island home — and changed many communities beyond the Sanibel Causeway.
For the second time in three years, BIG ARTS was forced to cancel all programming – more than 200 classes, events, performances, workshops, gallery shows, lectures and films. We sustained not insignificant damage, but it paled in comparison to our neighbors and friends who weathered far worse. When the water receded, the beautiful building finished in 2020, was still standing thanks to the generosity of the community that built it. BIG ARTS was created more than 40 years ago by and for the community. We had a responsibility to carry that torch forward as never before.
We recommitted ourselves to be a warm and welcoming gathering place that celebrates the artist in all of us and reminds us of our shared humanity. Once the dozens of trucks and first responders left our parking lot, we got to work. We opened our doors and hearts and created five free gatherings, complete with entertainment, food, beverages, art demonstrations, gallery shows and activities for children and adults alike. It was a joy to watch the happiness and community connections that happened as more than 1500 people walked through BIG ARTS doors. As one person commented, “For a moment, the world seemed normal again…”.
Now we begin anew with hope, determination, and, yes, happiness. We have created a bright new BIG ARTS season brimming with music, theatre, dance, films, fine arts, learning experiences, and, most of all, a place to share the sheer joy of being together again.
Enjoy the BIG ARTS 2023/24 season program guide and join us as we experience the power of the arts to inspire, enrich and enhance our lives and our community. We can’t wait to see you at BIG ARTS!
Lee Ellen Harder, Executive Director
Don Rice, Chairman of the Board