The leading ladies of the arts in Southwest Florida — Naples’ Myra Daniels and Fort Myers’ Barbara B. Mann — are guests on this week’s "Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle" program airing at 10 a.m. Sunday on ABC7.
Daniels is the founding CEO of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts. Now retired, and as the community prepares to formally say "thank you’’ next weekend, what does she have to say about the state of the arts in Southwest Florida?
Mann, the theater pioneer for whom the performing arts center in Fort Myers is named, celebrates her 99th birthday. She looks at the stage from the days of Thomas Edison to "Wicked.’’
Text and video highlights are at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
Here are excerpts:
Lytle: At this point in time in Southwest Florida, is the state of arts strong? Is there room for improvement?
Daniels: Well, of course, I am never satisfied. Ask the orchestra; they’ll tell you that. However, I am deliriously happy with the state of the arts that we have created.
You have to keep your ear to the ground to see what is wanted, what is needed — and then do it.
It’s just that simple.
Lytle: The greatest opportunity for the arts, moving forward, would be what? Music?
Daniels: I think we have a world-class facility, and it is paid for, and it is the envy of many, many arts institutions throughout the country.
The arts here are glowing and growing. When this area was listed as the Number 1 arts city in our size range, the book that was done on that said it was because of our contribution.
The one thing we need to be very, very careful with is .... there is room for a lot of arts. Nobody has to be shut out. But they have to be good. They can’t be second-rate or third-rate.
Until you have a population of about 3.5 million, you could not duplicate what we are doing now at The Phil.
Barbara B. Mann
Lytle: Our first guest was Myra Daniels, a friend of yours. Her achievements in Naples ...
Mann: Let me tell you something. There was a time when I didn’t consider her my friend.
You know why? Because she would not let people who performed down here (Naples) come up to the Barbara B. Mann hall. We sort of resented that.
There was a very famous violinist who we very much wanted to have and she had him a couple of different times. Finally he decided, "I think I’ll go up to Fort Myers too.’
Myra and I got along better after he came.
Lytle: I’m glad that had a happy ending. Myra certainly achieved a lot here.
Mann: Oh, she’s done beautifully. She’s a businesswoman. Yes, she’s very smart.