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Culture Watch

Build it and they will come.” That optimistic belief from the movie Field of Dreams has been popular in Naples for the past several years, albeit with a slight twist. Instead of trying to build a performance space, such diverse groups as Gulfshore Playhouse, Opera Naples and Naples City Improv decided to focus first on building their organizations and programs, confident that a home of their own would eventually appear.

That decision appears to be working. Gulfshore Playhouse and NCI have both found recurring performance space at the Norris Center. Opera Naples has secured a space large enough for classes and small presentations on Linwood Avenue and presents full-scale productions in various venues.

But the biggest dream (and one that could benefit these three groups along with several other local “gypsy” arts organizations) is the one being pursued by a grassroots group of artists and community members called Bayshore CAPA. Theirs is a dream of a Cultural and Performing Arts Center, a 900- to 1,200-seat,
multi-use, flexible-space hall in
the Bayshore/Gateway Triangle.

Bayshore CAPA conducted needs assessments for such a facility in 2002, 2007 and 2009. All pinpointed dozens of visual and performing artists and groups that are hungry for a permanent home. There are also strong indications that such a center would help
revitalize the area.

The center is still in the dreaming/drawing stage (you can see artist renderings and find more information on CAPA’s website, www.bayshorecapa.org). CAPA Vice President Chellie Doepke reports that the group is in the midst of a feasibility study to find the best of four possible sites. “We would love to get started within the next six months, finding a site and starting our capital campaign,” she says. “The dreams are lofty, but we definitely see a cultural and performing arts center being built along Bayshore.”

But even before breaking ground, the CAPA folks are taking a cue from the aforementioned groups and building a program of events to whet audience appetites and showcase the need for the center. The most ambitious of those, The Bayshore Festival of the Arts, takes place Jan. 29 and 30 at Sugden Regional Park. It features performances by more than 200 Collier County musicians, including the Naples Concert Band, Paradise Coastmen Barbershop Chorus, Frontline Bluegrass, West of Galway and various school jazz bands and choruses. There’s also a special appearance by the Band of the United States Air Force Reserve.

An accompanying art show, coordinated by sculptor Gabrielle Nappo, brings together numerous local artists.

Bayshore CAPA has also entered into partnership with Edison State College to present the Erich Kunzel Community Concert Series, which runs monthly through April. (The late pops conductor was a leading supporter of CAPA.) And it’s bringing musical groups to the Naples Botanical Garden for a monthly Sunday series called, appropriately, Jazz in the Garden.

Such are the things dreams are made of. The best part of this dream is that we all—performers and audience members alike—can participate in making it come true.  

Will the Dreams Come True?

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