Arts center kicks off youthful inaugural 'Marco's Got Talent' show
Marco Island Center For the Arts CEO Hyla Crane said the first "Marco's Got Talent" won't be the last.
Crane has been interested in revitalizing arts programing for children and youth since she took the position at the center.
"This may be the first, but it will certainly not be the last," said Crane
With the understanding that school was closed between Christmas and New Year's, Crane knew that a lot of island children were on holiday. She wanted to do something wonderful and fun.
Crane borrowed the catch phrase, America's Got Talent, and turned it into Marco's Got Talent.
"I thought that might appeal to children," said Crane.
To get the word out, she visited the three schools on the island to let the principals know they were looking for talented kids. The principals passed it on to the music departments that made the announcement.
"We ended up with this incredible group of young people with very diverse talents," said Crane.
Seven young people performed before the audience at the center and the judges. Mercedes Mertens played the piano; Connor Flaherty sang; Audrey Campbell gave a Tae Kwan Do performance; James W. Burns played the electric guitar; Ashley Francis danced; Michael Mertens played the piano, and 7-year-old Sloan Wheeler sang "Over the Rainbow."
"It's nice to introduce the art center to folks from Naples," said Crane, referring to the judges –Karen Kayser Benson, who worked as a casting coach for actors in California and New York; Randall Kenneth Jones, actor and president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm, and Laura Spell, who had a career as a professional dancer and now teaches dancing.
Crane says the program was less about competition and more about celebrating the talents of the kids. The winner of the contest, Burns, was recognized with a couple extra prizes.
"They were my pioneers ... my first timers," said Crane. "I like to think we can continue to provide special things like this here at the arts center."