Seasons postponed

Punta Gorda Symphony: The symphony is “working to re-imagine how we’ll engage together this year. . . Due to safety and health precautions for both our audience and our musicians, we are continuing to explore possibilities” for the 2020-21 season. Principal Percussionist Dean Anderson will perform Paul Creston’s Concertino for Marimba in the 2021-2022 season! Until then, please enjoy these short snippets and get inspired for the future.

Lemon Bay Playhouse 34th season: After long deliberation and in light of the best advice regarding the pandemic from all avenues of information, the Board of Trustees has decided it is in the best interest of our patrons, staff, and volunteers to delay our opening until January 2021.

Charlotte County Jazz Society:  The non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving and promoting jazz music, has cancelled their events and will reschedule their 30th anniversary dinner celebration from Oct. 24 to either March or October 2021. The directors have passed a resolution that all current members of CCJS will automatically have their memberships extended for one year from the time jazz society performances can safely resume.

Peace River Painters Plein Air: The programs will resume in the Fall when the weather is more cooperative. Contact if you would like to suggest a location. These programs are open to anyone with a desire to paint outside. They are held on Monday at 8:30 a.m. There are no fees and no instruction. For those who wish, at 11:15 a.m. paintings are shared and discussed. This group meets at different locations.

COVID-19 Diversions

This 10-day free online event will showcase feature films, shorts, documentaries, music, comedy, and panel discussions. “We are proud to join with our partner festivals to spotlight truly extraordinary films and talent, allowing audiences to experience both the nuances of storytelling from around the world and the artistic personalities of each festival,” Cannes Film Festival executives said in a statement. The festival will feature programming curated by the Berlin International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Tokyo International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Venice Film Festival and more. All viewers will be able to make donations to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
The mission of the wildlife rehabilitation and education center in Punta Gorda is to rescue and rehabilitate native wildlife and to educate the public. A 2021 calendar will be created — featuring donated photographs — to help educate the public about Florida’s native wildlife and the work of the center. You can donate up to three photographs of wildlife native to Florida by August 31 for consideration. Learn more.
With so many of our cultural partners temporarily closed, let us bring the humanities directly to you! Tapping into the immense talent and knowledge of our Speakers Directory, Florida Humanities is excited to announce its new weekly Florida Talks: At Home series! Tune in with your computer or smart device as we connect you with some of our state’s preeminent historians, authors, storytellers, and scholars.
Above & Beyond: JFK and the Florida U-2 pilots During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Thursday, May 14, Noon
Best-selling author, Michael Tougias, discusses the little-known story of U-2 pilots who flew from Orlando to Cuba to secure photographic proof that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles on Cuba, sparking an international crisis that brought the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. One pilot was fatally shot down.

Oh, Florida! Wednesday, May 20, 6 p.m.
To some, it’s a paradise. To others, it’s a punchline. It’s actually both, as you’ll learn from veteran journalist and New York Times best-selling author, Craig Pittman. Pittman’s book, Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, embraces those contradictions and shows how they fit together to make this the most interesting state in the union.

Documentaries funded fully or in part by Florida Humanities with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities are available for viewing on the Florida Humanities website.
The challenge: re-create your favorite art using just three objects lying around home, photograph your re-creation, and share it through social media. Thousands of re-creations later, we’re in awe of your creative powers and sense of humor. The challenge was inspired by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and a brilliant Instagram account called Between Art and Quarantine, but adapted by the Getty Museum with the invitation to use digitized and downloadable artworks from Getty’s online collection. The only tools you need for this activity are your imagination and a picture of a work of art you like or find interesting. Browse any online Getty Museum collection or other free great online collections, including LACMA, The Met, Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walters, the National Gallery, or do your own online search.
New York Times has compiled locations where verse is happening on Facebook, Zoom, in people’s notebooks, and in our earbuds. Some highlights are a sound artist who is making an audio collage of haikus about the pandemic, weekly book release readings from Copper Canyon Press, and the option to book a live video call with a poet through the Poetry Society of New York.
The husband and wife team of Rachel and Brendan transformed a back bedroom closet into a makeshift theater. Following the philosophy that theater only requires actors, the text and an audience, these professional actors get back to the basics with the help of A-lister playwright pals, writers with projects in development, and students of all ages submitting material for them to read for LIVE audiences via Facebook for free on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 p.m. (The link is to a Facebook site.)
Florida Rep has launched a free weekly series, every Friday at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom. The live series is limited to 100 participants per session, but they’ll post a recorded version of all sessions the following week.
Browse this site to find diverse cultural life from around the world.
For example, digital stages have been opening their archives and broadcasting legendary past performances featuring star actors, boundary-pushing directors and incredible sets and costumes. These online streaming theater, dance and opera shows ensure you have best view in the house, and it’s often for free.
Virtually visit museums and art galleries
The Google Art Project partnered with more than 1,200 cultural institutions from around the world to archive and document priceless pieces of art and to provide virtual tours of museums using Google Street View technology. (After following link, scroll to about the middle of the options to find the museums and galleries.)
Listen to music online
As more festivals, performances and concerts are canceled due to the coronavirus shutdown, musicians of all stripes and sizes are taking to social and streaming platforms to play live for their fans. NPR Music is compiling a list of live audio and video streams from around the world, categorized by date and genre, with links out to streaming platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Some will require registration or a subscription, but most will be free, often with digital tip jars and opportunities to directly support artists by buying music and merchandise.

2020 National Art Exhibition Winners

2020 National Art Exhibition Winners

Winners of The National Art Exhibition (NAE) were announced at an Awards Reception Thursday, February 13 at the Visual Arts Center of Punta Gorda. Judge Dawn Emerson presented awards and shared her remarks about why she selected each winning entry. Many of the award recipients came from Southwest Florida and surrounding areas and attended the event with family and friends. Don’t miss this prize-winning art ensemble, on display February 7 – March 25 at the Visual Arts Center.

2020 National Art Exhibition Winners:

  • MERIT AWARD: “Red Coat” by Rebecca Witter of Englewood, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “The Chalk Artist” by Kathy Simon-McDonald of Bradenton, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “Harmony” by Oscar Vargas of Deerfield Beach, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “Marabou 2” by Lee Andre of Boynton Beach, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “One Step Forward” by Cheryl Fausel of Cape Coral, FL
  • EXCELLENCE AWARD: “Local Catch” by Donna Nyzio of Beaufort, NC
  • EXCELLENCE AWARD: “L’il Fred” by Gwenneth Barth-White of Placida, FL
  • EXCELLENCE AWARD: “Reawakening” by Elizabeth Weiss of New Orleans, LA
  • BOWLES AWARD FOR PORTRAIT EXCELLENCE: “Potlatch” by Claudia Selene of Ypsilanti, MI
  • AWARD FOR ABSTRACT EXCELLENCE: “Walls and Windows” by Daniel Remmel of North Palm Beach, FL
  • THIRD PLACE: “Yin and Yang” by Sandra Kuck of Boca Raton, FL
  • SECOND PLACE: “Reflections I” by Gerard Huber of Dallas, TX
  • FIRST PLACE: “No New Friends” by Corinne Forrester of Daytona Beach, FL

The NAE is free to view during regular hours, Monday and Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. The Visual Arts Center will also be open the following Sundays from 10:00am – 2:00pm: February 23, March 1, March 8, and March 15.

Guided Docent Tours will happen on the following dates at 1:00pm:

    • February 18
    • February 29
    • March 3
    • March 13

Poetry Night March 4, 7:00pm

Join us for an evening of art and poetry! This free event will feature readings of selected poems inspired by NAE paintings.

The Visual Arts Center Celebrates Selection as a Winn-Dixie Community Bag Program Beneficiary

The Visual Arts Center has been selected as a beneficiary of the Community Bag Program for the month of July. The Winn-Dixie Community Bag Program, which launched in February 2019, is a reusable bag program that facilitates community support with the goal to make a difference in the communities where shoppers live and work. The Visual Arts Center was selected as the July beneficiary of the program by store leadership at the Winn-Dixie in Port Charlotte located at 3280 Tamiami Trail.


The Visual Arts Center will receive a $1 donation every time the $2.50 reusable Community Bag is purchased at this location during July, unless otherwise directed by the customer through the Giving Tag attached to the bag.


“I was thrilled to receive the news that our busy art center would benefit from donations made through the Community Bag Program” said Stacy Calvino, Business Development Director of The Visual Arts Center. “As a not-for-profit, we delight in knowing our community appreciates and supports our mission.”


For more information on the Community Bag Program, visit


The Visual Arts Center is located at 210 Maud Street, Punta Gorda and can be reached at (941) 639-8810. Our galleries are always free and open to the public. Check out our website, for details on events, exhibits, classes, workshops and more.

The Charlotte Chorale announces $10,000 donation received from Harbor Nissan

The Charlotte Chorale is pleased to announce to be the recipient of a $10,000 donation provided by Harbor Nissan’s “Harbor Gives Back” program. The funds have been used to purchase a Steinway piano for the Charlotte Chorale’s rehearsals.

“We were so pleased and honored to have been awarded this most generous donation from Harbor Nissan,” said Janet Sims, Marketing Director for the Charlotte Chorale. The Chorale had been without a rehearsal piano since earlier this year due to a change in rehearsal venues. “A temporary portable electronic piano was being used in the interim with the hopes of purchasing a quality used professional piano sometime in the future, and winning this award was perfect timing as our rehearsals begin in October,” said Sims.

The Charlotte Chorale is a nonprofit choral organization with a current membership of approximately seventy voices under the direction of Dr. William Dederer. Three choral concerts are performed each year starting with the very popular Christmas Concert in December 2019 held at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center in Punta Gorda. Rehearsals will begin in October and the new piano will be a excellent addition to the rehearsal venue.

For more information about The Charlotte Chorale visit

Comedy for a Cause: Sept. 14

Get ready for some belly laughs at the sixth annual Comedy for a Cause on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center. County Commissioner Director Chris Constance promises another hilarious evening as local business and community leaders take the stage for a night of spontaneous hilarity as they perform a series of improvisational skits. Think “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” without the network censors.

The performers, who will compete for Judges’ and People’s Choice Awards, include:

  • Sherri Dennis, editor of the Punta Gorda Herald for Adams Publishing Group
  • Jared Forma, general manager of Charlotte Stone Crabs Baseball, Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training
  • Cherie “Get R Done” George, customer relations director for the Gettel Automotive Group
  • Melanie “The Big Bopper” Markel, owner of Array of Cabinets
  • Marie Pearlingi, LMT BMC, owner of Marie Massage, LLC
  • Gary “Mayor of Vice” Wein, Vice Mayor of Punta Gorda;
  • Bob “Bad to the Bone” White, business development director for the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce.

Comedy for a Cause is the Charlotte Players’ principal fundraiser. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit community theater’s many community programs, including the Charlotte County Imagination Library and Kids OnStage.

Tickets purchased in cast members’ names also go toward the People’s Choice Award. VIP dinner and show table seating is $85 with a 6 p.m. entrance, and show-only tickets are $25 with a 7:15 p.m. entrance. Both are available from any of the performers or at or

Due to the improvisational nature of the show, it has been rated for adults only. For more information please contact Event Chair Marie LaBrosse (941-815-6230, or the Charlotte Players (941-255-1022,

Auditions for the Nutracker Ballet

Hands & Hearts for Performing Arts, Inc. is holding auditions for The Nutcracker Ballet that will be performed Dec. 15 and 16 at the Wakeman Cultural Center Theater in Port Charlotte.

Auditions for children and youth ages 8-18 for female and male dancers, acrobats/gymnasts and actors are invited to audition will be Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, from 9 am. to 2 p.m.

Auditions for professional and amateur dancers and actors ages 16 to 55+ will be Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at 4 p.m. Female and male dancers are needed for leading dance and character roles (Cavalier, Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Nutcracker Prince and Rat King). Adult dancers need to bring a brief resume (no headshot needed). Adult performers are also needed for the Party Scene requiring simple choreography.

Auditions will be held at the Starz Choice Dance Academy (238 Seaboard Ave, Venice, Fl 34285). Details and registration information is available at

Charlotte Harbor marine life mural

Punta Gorda Mural Society is raising funds for the Harborwalk Mural. The mural will be painted on the retaining wall under the U.S. 41 southbound bridge along the Punta Gorda Harborwalk. This walkway is used by more than 1,000 walkers and bicyclists every day (2,000 in season). It will capture our Charlotte Harbor marine life, past and present. Learn more at www.puntagordamurals.