Guest commentary: Patrice Shields: Arts and more take center stage in Bonita

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Guest commentary

This is the year that art and entertainment take center stage in Bonita Springs.

On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs hits the power switch to light up the stage in the highly anticipated Center for Performing Arts.

A live, four-piece jazz ensemble will open the 400-seat Hinman Auditorium with “The Legends of Jazz.”

A full performance and film series runs Jan. 23-26 with the CFABS Players in “Plaza Suite” by Neil Simon, followed by “Improviganzapalooza Fest 2014” from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1. A full listing of performances through April is available at www.artcenterbonita.org.

The new 29,000-square-foot center at 10150 Bonita Beach Road, part of a $3.3 million capital campaign, features both the Hinman Auditorium for dance, music, community and youth theater performances and the 200-seat Moe Auditorium & Film Center, a separate building of 9,000 square feet for the very popular Films for Film Lovers foreign film series, youth performances, classes and more.

The Centers for the Arts signed an agreement to purchase the Living Waters Church building in June 2013 and is scheduled to close on the property at the end of February 2014. Living Waters and the Centers for the Arts have agreed to share the space for the next few months to ensure a smooth transition for Living Waters to its new, larger space in Bonita Springs.

The Centers for the Arts campus at 26100 Old 41 Road in Bonita will continue as the Center for Visual Arts, offering expanded adult art education programming to meet the current and growing demand for additional classes in metal, clay, jewelry, painting, drawing, mosaics and sculpture and continue to host national and local exhibitions throughout the year.

For more than 50 years the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs has offered year-round classes and summer camps in dance, theater, music and art to thousands of children. The new Center for Performing Arts offers additional classroom space for families looking for quality arts education at affordable prices. Most of the 200 summer arts camps offered last year sold out.

The center has added a Teen Theater program, which is now in rehearsals for its first production, “Little Shop of Horrors,” scheduled to open on Feb. 21.

Auditions for “The Wizard of Oz” will be held on Feb. 5 and 6.

Meanwhile, the Bonita Springs National Art Festival opens this weekend in its new, expanded location in Riverside Park, on Old 41 Road. It is ranked the top show in the Bonita Springs/Naples area by The Harris List and includes 230 nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, wine, beer, music and food. The festival is an integral part of the Centers for the Arts and its programming. As part of the mission of Arts for All, we provide programming to more than 10,000 at-risk youth annually, helped by $90,000 in scholarships last year.

The arts are alive, well and thriving in Bonita Springs, supported by the Centers for the Arts’ two centers.

For more information, call 239-495-8989 or visit www.artcenterbonita.org.

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