MIFA’s 2022 Artist of the Year and scholarships announced

In front, Jim Swanker and his wife Karen. Standing are Clara Alber and Carolyn Burger, MIFA board members.

It has been eight years since Marco Island Foundation for the Arts (MIFA) has been recognizing an “Artist of the Year,” an individual or group who has been making outstanding artistic contributions to our community. 

Individuals from the local community are asked to submit nominations each spring.

This spring, three nominations were received. And all three nominations were for the same person, who has been generously giving his time and talents to several artistic organizations on Marco Island for many years, Jim Swanker.

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Jim and his wife, Karen, were recently surprised by two MIFA board members when they came to his home to announce his nomination. 

He is well known locally for creating unique set designs at the Marco Players, located at the Town Center Mall. Starting in 2010, Jim completed the set for the play, “On Golden Pond,” and has been developing the monthly sets there ever since. He has also helped the Sisbarro Acting Studio who performs at the Marco Middle School, The Island Theatre when they performed at Rose Hall Auditorium, and the Studio Players who perform in Golden Gate. Altogether, Jim Swanker has not only designed but also built about 70 sets as a volunteer. 

When asked to help, Jim is always willing to volunteer. He is also part of the team at the Marco Island Center for the Arts that hangs their art exhibits. He has a strong sense of aesthetics, and is meticulous, caring and generous.  In 2021, Jim and Karen worked together to embellish the “Fly Me To The Moon’ Gala at the Marco Island Art Center, creating a multicolored planetary system at no cost by using recycled materials. 

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MIFA also provides scholarships every spring to outstanding local students who will be majoring in an area of the arts including visual art, literary, performing arts, theatre, music and dance.  Students receiving a scholarship this year and their college majors include Isabella Burgos (Performing Theatre), Rachel Weiner (Musical Theatre), Grace Fields (Dance) and Riley Letendre (Literary). 

To celebrate Jim Swanker as our 2022 Artist of the Year and meet our scholarship recipients, the community is invited to attend a special luncheon at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 11, in the community room at Marco Lutheran Church, 525 N. Collier Blvd, Marco Island. Tickets are $22.50 and can be ordered through PayPal by going to MIFA’s website, marcoislandfoundation.org, and clicking on “2022 Scholarship Luncheon” or you may mail a check made out to “MIFA” to Carolyn Burger, 282 Sand Hill St., Marco Island. Come and celebrate the arts with your friends and enjoy a delicious lunch provided by Stonewalls.