EDITOR’S NOTE: The following has been submitted by Rotarian Shirley Jewell. Island club news can be sent to news@santivachronicle.com.

Just into the first week of 2019 and the hard-press is evident for all the principle players that form our Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Arts and Crafts Festival Committee.

Our primary sponsors and ad sales entities are designing ad content for our TAB handout that provides information and news on Sanibel-Captiva Rotary and contains a complete listing of all booth vendors and location of booths. This will be extremely important this year, since there will be a new layout design for vendor and food booths.

The application date for artists to participate in this year’s Arts and Crafts Festival is now closed and a committee is going through the selection process of how to present the best and most exciting array of art at the festival.

Rotarians have been hitting the pavement, so to speak, to acquire a fantastic collection of Silent Auction items for the public to bid on. Enabling us to do that, Rotary is traditionally supported by our local community businesses, the many friends both on and off Island, local artists, and participating artists themselves. This has been a particularly horrendous year for the businesses on Sanibel and Captiva and yet, they continue to support Sanibel-Captiva Rotary with donations and Rotary is extremely thankful for that. You can really find some amazing and unusual items. The Rotary Arts and Crafts Festival provides an opportunity to bid on a collection of beautiful art pieces, vacation stays, dining experiences, unusual gifts and theme baskets, etc., etc.

With permission from the Motsumoto family, San-Cap Rotary will, once again, be using one of the late Ikki Matsumoto’s beautiful designs on our Sanibel-Captiva Rotary T-shirts and shirts, along with our Festival Logo on hats and other merchandise. This booth gets really business, so shop there early.

REMEMBER THE DATES: February 16th & 17th, 2019.

Speakers on January 4th at Rotary were Florida Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director, Greg Longenhaven and the theatre’s Development Director, Renee Pesci.

Talk about DRAMA and the theater…changes over the last year for the Florida Repertory Theatre were headline news but things have now settled down. After the departure of Florida Repertory Theatre’s founder and former Artistic Director, Bob Cacioppo, the Board of Directors and search committee concluded that their best candidate to fill the huge shoes of Cacioppo was the resident theatre company’s own 21-year founding member, Greg Longenhaven. Greg began his new position at the theatre on October 15th, 2018.

Greg has consistently been an essential part of the Florida Rep’s resident theater company…acting, directing, couching, producing, and an ever-admiring friend to Bob. Greg has a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Pittsburg and has worked in theater, film, opera, television, video and radio; along with being an assistant professor of theater at Florida Gulf Coast University, since 2015.

Maintaining the reputation and quality of theatre productions presented on stage at the Florida Rep. is the foremost goal for Greg. This theatre company has led the way in the revitalization of the City of Fort Myer’s River District and is essential to the continued success of downtown Fort Myers.

Current and upcoming Florida Rep. theatre productions are Tenderly…The Rosemary Clooney Musical, FENCES, Hay Fever, Million Dollar Quartet, and Native Gardens.

Greg introduced us to Renee Pisci, Development Director at the Rep., who has been with the theatre company, since 2015. Live theater and for the most part all non-profit art presenter do not generate the full financial support needed to present their art to the public. They need to raise additional funding through fundraising activities, donations, grants, and endowment funds. Florida Rep. has an annual operating budget of four million dollars and only 40% of that is earned income. That means a lot of attention goes in to finding other funding sources. Luckily the Rep.’s reputation for exceptional live theatre presentations and for being a solid community business driver in Fort Myers has earned the respect of its donors. Endowment funds have also been contributed for continuing support of the Florida Rep. by generous donors.

Funding and grants have also been received by the Rep. to present a number of educational opportunities for young people from grade-school to college theatre interns.

Live theater is important. It is a place where anyone at any age can find relatable emotions presented on stage directly touching their hearts and souls. Emotions from joy to sadness are felt by audiences and may help them understand their own life story and teach them powerful lessons on the human spirit.

I haven’t touched on half of the work the Rep does to educate the children of our community from acting lessons, school educational programs, school vacation theater camps, and live children’s theater. But you get the idea…theater teaches us all to relate to each other in a special way and keeps history and traditions alive for future generations.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7:00a.m., Friday mornings at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests welcomed.