The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, run by Florida Arts, Inc. (a 501c3 organization), is a must-see attraction with a colorful history. The center is dedicated to bringing world-class art events to the Southwest Florida community. Within our restored, state-of-the-art facility, we present a wide range of events to the public. From concerts to art exhibitions, galas to lectures, and providing educational arts experiences for children and adults alike– we promise excellence!

FAQ

WHATEVER IT TAKES! 

Every time I consider the mantra for the next phase of Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center’s life, I end up back at this phrase. ‘Whatever It Takes’ sounds good, but is hard to achieve, and even harder to maintain. We can always do better, and that is the way I want all of our team at SBDAC to think.

Hurricane Ian dealt the Art Center and all of Southwest Florida a catastrophic blow.  While being shut down for several months by Hurricane Ian, we performed, with the help of the City of Fort Myers, numerous repairs to our beautiful historic gem equalling approximately a half million dollars. We were quickly back up and running, continuing our fabulously diverse programs for the 2022-2023 season. Our great team of leaders worked diligently to produce our finest season to date, and by the end of last season, our box office outperformed every other season in our history! We are grateful to all of our donors, sponsors, and customers for your incredible support.  We’re here today in thanks to you and to our dedicated board of directors and the amazing SBDAC team with whom I have the privilege to work.

As we announce our panoply of concerts and events this coming season, I’ve named it “It’s a GRAND Season,” as we have exciting news to share! Last season, we held a capital campaign to purchase a Steinway & Sons Concert Grand piano for permanent residence at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center to insure the world class performers we bring to town have the very best instrument at their fingertips. The 88 Keys fundraiser was a tremendous success, and we have many wonderful donors to thank for making this purchase possible. The first concert of our new season features the new instrument with the Ehnes Quartet on November 16th with pianist Andy Armstrong, who was instrumental in finding our beautiful new instrument- now known as Gertrude Steinway!  

While I’m on the programming note, let me mention our deliciously inventive Jazz, Bluegrass, Chamber Music, Vinyl Vibes concerts, Famous Author Lectures, Fashion shows, and Film Series available throughout the season. There is something for everyone, including students, as Davis School of Music and Davis School of Visual Art continue to grow, offering arts education to our youth.  

While I’m bragging, let me tell you more. The new Sidney’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden is a hit with our community. Many of you have made it the place to be on Friday evenings, watching the sun set with our beautiful vistas and enjoying a rooftop concert or dancing the night away. We will continue to expand our programming on the rooftop, so keep an eye on our schedule of events. Sidney’s has also become a popular rental space for special occasions with its ideal setting. If the “Sidney’s” sign is on in the window down below, come on up and see what’s going on. 

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center has grown rapidly since we opened our doors in 2008, consistently averaging twenty percent growth in revenue each season. We have come from The Little Art Center That Could to being one of the most important arts and cultural destinations in all of Southwest Florida. The economic impact of our audience and our organization has poured into our beautiful historic downtown and it shows. Now, our little town is always filled with residents and visitors experiencing arts and culture. The impressive development happening all around our town is proof of our success. During gallery hours, we have a steady flow of guests who want to see our amazing curated art shows in both our Capital Gallery and the Grand Atrium Gallery. Each month, a new exhibit is installed so your experience is different every time you visit. 

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center’s mission is to nurture innovation and excellence in the visual and performing arts through exhibitions, performances, education and outreach. We strive to share the resources we have to the betterment of our quality of life, for our children, and for the people who depend on us to provide Fort Myers with cultural offerings for their families. We are ready for the exciting new opportunities this year will bring. This is my promise to our future. We will continue to serve the community with WHATEVER IT TAKES! We are going from great to amazing and need your continued support in order to do so. Join us in this GRAND season and I hope you will be a part of the experience. 

 

Jim Griffith

CEO, Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Our Mission Statement

Florida Arts, Inc. nurtures innovation and excellence in the visual and performing arts via exhibitions, performances, education, and community outreach.  Through our development and management of the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center, we carry on the legacy of Berne Davis and her mission to provide a world-class venue and open access to the arts for all Members of the Southwest Florida Community.

Gallery Hours

Reg Gallery Hours: Mon – Fri  10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Extended Gallery Hours: most Wednesday and Fridays until 10pm

Call ahead for gallery hours

Check event listings for
additional times we are open

Questions?

Or Call 239-333-1933

Watch this video to learn more!

Our History

The land where the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is built has a long and colorful history and therefore, has become part of the local heritage. The site was originally a Native American Calusa settlement hundreds of years ago. Between the early 1900’s when the beautiful masterpiece of Neoclassic Revival architecture was built, to our present day’s art center, our building has gone through many changes.

Did You Know?

The Caloosahatchee Manuscripts consists of two bronze, lantern-like cylinders – eight feet high and five feet in diameter. Illuminated by the Florida sun by day, and metal halide lamps by night, the water jet-cut bronze lanterns grace the sidewalk in front of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers casting their manuscripts on passers-by, and the Neo-Classical columns and Florida Keystone exterior of the historic site. Take a minute when you visit to step back in history, catch the light and read the interpretive plaque located to the west of the building in the grassy area that translates the Latin and Maskoki text of Jim Sanborn’s Caloosahatchee Manuscripts.

The eastern illuminated, lantern-like sculpture drum contains the text of a story told by Maskoki Indian leader Tchikilli to James Oglethorpe about the migration of Native Americans into Florida. The Seminoles, Miccosukee and Creek trace their ancestry to Tchikilli and his people.

The western drum contains the Latin names of 500 botanicals that Thomas Edison tested in an effort to develop a local source of latex from which to make rubber in order to help out his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.

Artist Jim Sanborn is a sculptor of large-scale public art-works. His pieces are often inspired by history and many include ancient or encrypted international or Native American Language texts, which challenge the viewer to solve an apparent mystery contained in the work, or to discover the metaphorical content of the piece. Among his many works are a piece for the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. called “Covert Balance,” one titled “All the Ships Sailed in Circles” that graces the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in the Republic of China, and “Kryptos” a piece at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, that still intrigues cryptographers.

From our CEO, Jim Griffith

“As a native Floridian principally raised here in Southwest Florida, I developed an early appreciation for the arts through our public school system. It was there I had my first experiences with live theater, ballet, and orchestra, experiences that launched me into a career in the arts. This inspiration took me all the way to The Juilliard School and right back here to Southwest Florida. We must never lose sight of the tremendous impact the performing and visual arts can have on the quality of life for everyone, especially our future generations. Fostering imagination and creative thinking helps children connect to themselves and their cultures. The arts can speak directly to their dreams and aspirations.”

SBDAC Senior Staff

Jim Griffith, CEO/President

Devon M. Parker, Assistant Director

Melissa DeHaven, Public Relations Director

Shawn Ayotte, Front of House & Operations Director, Webmaster

Stasi Gonzalez, Office Manager & Event Coordinator

Angela Hicks, Education & Engagement Director, Volunteer Coordinator

Spencer Barney, Operations Manager

Dharma LeFevre, Assistant Operations Manager

Cesar Aguilera, Curator

LaDwaina Barron, Special Event Manager

Olivia Salazar, Hospitality Manager

Israel Alpizar, Visual Designer

SBDAC Board of Directors

Scott Atwood, Esq.(Chairperson)
Lory Rodriguez (Vice-Chairperson)
Rowan T. Connelly (Immediate Past Chairperson)
Bill Mattingly, CPA (Treasurer)
Carol Osterhout (Secretary)
Jim Griffith (President, Ex-Officio)
Marshall Bower, Esq.
Alexandra Bremner
Darryl Frey
Don Gross
Stephen E. Hooper
Friedrich N. Jaeger
John Kakatsch
Dennis Landfried
Patricia Lynch
Molly Maggiano, Esq.
Martin Pulner
John Talmage
Pamela Templeton
Mary Voytek

SBDAC Advisory Board

Nicole Gray-Kearns
Jim Humphrey, Esq.
Janice Kemp
Daniel Kearns
Barbara A. Saunders, M.Ed.

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