Sanibel may be an island but it’s certainly as in touch with the arts as any major city, thanks to the Barrier Island Group for the Arts (BIG ARTS) patrons, members, and supporters.
Located on Dunlop Road, BIG ARTS is situated between the City Hall and the Sanibel Historical Museum. The complex includes the Marks Box Office, Phillips Gallery, Founders Gallery, Schein Performance Hall for hosting concerts and performances and various rooms which are well used for workshops and classes. It is run as a non-profit 501C organization.
BIG ARTS Past and Present
BIG ARTS was founded in 1979 and has been providing cultural fulfillment and enrichment to Sanibel residents and visitors ever since. Members initially met in private homes until 1987 when a small cottage was donated on the site where the BIG ARTS Center now stands. Through the generosity and support of local volunteers, supporters and benefactors, BIG ARTS continues to expand its successful mission.
This cultural center offers over 250 classes and workshops each year with thousands of people getting a huge benefit from the programs. Classes and workshops include art in its broadest forms from painting and drawing classes to dance, pottery, photography, fused glass, jewelry making, music, collage, languages, and writing skills. Age is no barrier to these classes, which cater for young and old.
The Winter Academy, as its name suggests, looks more in-depth than single lectures and offers college courses by academic professors specializing in art, music, religion, international law, economics, and more.
Ways to Support BIG ARTS
You can support the work of BIG ARTS by viewing the artworks on display in the galleries, patronizing the gift shop, volunteering or joining in some of the events, lectures, classes and productions that are hosted by BIG ARTS. World class music, ballet, contemporary dance, and theater are represented along with distinguished speakers, acclaimed films, and fine artworks making this an outstanding resource for such a small island community.
Film buffs will want to be part of the Film Society’s Monday night series of films and documentaries. The Film Academy goes a step further by offering thought-provoking film discussions, matinees on Wednesdays, film festivals and presentation by local filmmakers.
The main BIG ARTS Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in summer), 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and closed Sundays unless a performance is scheduled. You can visit the Phillips Gallery from October through April, Monday-Saturday in the afternoons from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., The Founders Gallery is open from October through April, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The organization is affiliated with the Herb Strauss Theater on Periwinkle Way and there are further offices and classrooms right next door to the theater.
Whatever type of arts you are looking for, you are likely to find it well represented at BIG ARTS on Sanibel Island. Their diverse programs cover all types of dance, films, visual arts, theater, comedy, classical, jazz, pop, and contemporary music in a full program of performances, workshops, and special events.