“ Myra Janco Daniels to retire.”
So said the stunning headline on the front page of the Daily News the other day.
It is difficult to imagine Daniels not at the helm of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, which she helped found nearly 30 years ago.
She has been the face, the driving force, the lifeblood, the architect, the everything of the Phil from the time it was a startup band looking for gymnasiums and even big tents in which to perform.
Now the Philharmonic is no less than an industry, including an orchestra of professionals, a performing arts center with two auditoriums and a separate, adjacent art museum.
When she told us during the Philharmonic’s initial capital fundraising drive that gifts would help “entertain us for the rest of our lives,” little did we know that she was not exaggerating.
She was at her best in the private sector and seemed off her game only when dealing with public projects such as partnerships for a mega-concert series, an outdoor concert pavilion or shaping arts policies for public schools.
When we think of her accomplishments, we come up with this incomplete list:
n Putting the Naples area on the cultural arts map.
n Teaching us that the arts is a business — one that she ran very successfully — that requires lots of money.
n Enriching our lives with a variety of performances from standup comedians to ballet — right in our own backyard.
n Introducing busload after busload of schoolchildren to high-quality music and plays that they will never forget.
We are glad that Daniels announced her retirement so long before its effective date, at the end of the year. That gives the arts community — even beyond Southwest Florida — plenty of time to add up her other milestones and celebrate them in a very public way.
We would expect those tributes to revolve around central themes:
She knows where she wants to go.
She tells you where she is going.
And then she gets it done.
And then she is ready to do it again — always with the next step, the next goal in mind.
Myra Janco Daniels not at the Philharmonic?
Still hard to believe.