Bonita Springs National Art Festival
Dates: This festival is held on:
- January 14-15, 2017
- February 11-12, 2017
- March 4-5, 2017
Hours. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Place: Bonita Springs National takes place in Riverside Park on Old 41 in historic downtown Bonita Springs. (For GPS purposes, the street address is 10450 Reynold Street or 27000 Old 41 Road (34135).) [In the past, the venue for Bonita Springs National had been The Promenade at Bonita Bay, a luxuriant, upscale 115,000-square-foot restaurant, retail and office center positioned on 10 acres between Naples to the south, Fort Myers to the north and Sanibel Island and Captiva to the west.]
National Ranking: Over the years, the Bonita Springs National Art Festivals have been consistently ranked by trade journal Sunshine Artist Magazine as one of the finest in the entire country. Last year, Bonita National attained the lofty ranking of #2 in the nation.
Description. Participation in Bonita Springs National’s three winter art festivals is restricted to just 211 spots. Because of the ambiance of the location, the region’s gorgeous winter weather and the sophistication of the 20,000 + festival-goers who flock to The Promenade at Bonita Bay, all three festivals draw the very best artists from across the United States, Canada, South America and even Europe. The festivals stress quality and originality, with artists juried into the shows exhibiting and selling original paintings, drawings, pastels, photography, handcrafted jewelry, clay works and ceramics, glass art, metal sculpture and more.
Says artist Darlene Pearse, who has participated in the last seven January festivals, “[Bonita Springs National] attracts more of the connoisseurs who have a nice feel for what’s in the artwork. I never tire of talking to people who are intrigued at how my paintings go from concept to concrete form. It’s amazing how much interest there is of the visitors’ desire to unearth the creative process. It’s really an enjoyable experience. Although there will be big ticket items for serious collectors, there will be opportunities to pick up original pieces at affordable prices.”
Artist/blogger Bonnie L. Blandford adds, “The Bonita Springs National Art Festival was the perfect show to start my year. The director ,Barry Witt, runs a tight show with a smile on his face plus enforces the rules which I dearly love. It helps everything run smoothly and the show looks so clean and professionally run. Beautiful location, wonderful neighbors. I was proud to be there and can’t wait to go back in March.”
Organizer. Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs.
Cost. An optional donation of $5 is requested.
Community Impact. Proceeds raised through the festivals from donations made at the gate and artist application and booth fees stay in Bonita Springs and are used by the Center for the Arts to provide scholarships, exhibitions, community events, and low-cost youth and adult art programming and classes. Specifically:
- local elementary schools receive over $20,000 worth of visual and performing arts programming annually through free programs like “Art Goes to School” and “After School Express;”
- local youth and adults receive over $20,000 worth of free Community Theater Programs with full scale productions throughout the year;
- local high school students receive over $7,000 worth of free sculpture and painting classes annually through the Center’s High School Mentor Program;
- local high school, middle and elementary school students receive over $6,500 in free exhibitions, receptions and award programs annually;
- local youth receive over $60,000 in scholarships annually to participate in visual and performing arts programming;
- local families receive over $5,000 worth of free Saturday Family Activity Days annually, featuring docent tours, hands‐on art projects, and a film series; and
- free annual “Arts WorldWide” festival featuring visual and performing arts by artists from countries and cultures around the world. ith a budget of over $10,000, the Arts Worldwide festival fosters understanding, literacy, and sensitivity to the many cultures that make up our diverse community
With a budget of more than $10,000, the “Arts Worldwide festival fosters understanding, literacy and sensitivity to the many cultures that make up our diverse community. The Center for the Arts offers one of the only free youth theater programs in the area. It remains free because of proceeds from the festival.
“We never thought of ourselves as creating a local legacy until our 50th anniversary, when we celebrated our service to our community,” says Center for the Arts President Susan Bridges. “At our celebration, Mayor Ben Nelson, spoke about all we’ve accomplished, including our festivals. We realized just how remarkable our legacy is and what the festivals and our organization have given to our community.” The Bonita Springs National Art Festivals have given identity and brought recognition to Bonita Springs and Southwest Florida, giving the City of Bonita Springs its largest cultural events. “‘A community’s sense of place, its unique ‘fabric’ is not a static concept; it evolves and develops over time,” notes Operations Director Kathy Saldivar. “The festivals help shape, reveal and enhance our identity, the unique meaning, value and character of our community.”
The Bonita Springs National Art Festival is an entirely volunteer effort, which enables the Center for the Arts to keep the cost of the festivals extremely low. The three Bonita Springs National Art Festivals are the largest fundraisers for the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs.
Fast Facts. According to Festival Director Barry Witt, each festival involves:
- 378 volunteer hours on festival weekend.
- 500 phone calls to recruit volunteers for the festival.
- $1,000 spent on average by each artist in the show on hotels, travel and expenses to come to the festival.
- 16 working hours each day the week of the festival for director Barry Witt.
- 1,700 e-mails (plus phone calls) from artists pertaining to the show.
- 211 artists in the show.
- artists from 473 cities and 4 countries applied to exhibit in the 2012 festivals
- 20,000 people come to each festival.
- $5 optional donation requested at gate that goes toward scholarships, programming and community events at the Art League.