“Inspiring our community. Defining our culture.” Those are the words that hang above the entrance to The Naples Players community theatre in the heart of downtown Naples. The iconic 5th Avenue South location temporarily closed its doors in March 2020, but they were far from shut down during the last 12 months.
The cancellation of their entire 2020 show season and subsequent loss of nearly $1.6 million in revenue did not stop the non-profit theater from continuing to inspire the community.
In addition to creating an alternative season of outdoor performances, arts events, and collaborations with other non-profits like The Naples Zoo and Naples Botanical Garden, the team at The Naples Players also saw a unique opportunity to address the growing concern of food insecurity in Collier County. So, how do you tie together a theatre and local food banks? Through a calendar, of course.
What started as a collaborative charity project to coincide with TNP’s upcoming production of Calendar Girls, evolved into a much more meaningful task when the heads of several other local non-profits came together.
The show Calendar Girls is based on a true story about a group of women who developed a risqué calendar to raise money for a loved-one battling cancer. In staying true to the storyline, TNP gathered 12 local ladies in non-profit leadership roles who were willing to risk going (almost) nude for a collaborative fundraising calendar in late 2019.
In early 2020, local photographer Charlie McDonald worked with the women to create stunning images that represent their organizations, and that also show off a little skin. When completed,
TNP planned to provide each of the organizations with a supply of calendars they could give away with donations, but when the pandemic hit in April and the original production of Calendar Girls was postponed, the project came to a halt.
As 2020 pressed on, many local nonprofits in Collier County felt the pressure of tightening budgets and continuing services while maintaining health and safety guidelines. It wasn’t until late fall that the project resurfaced with a new intensity and purpose. In a unanimous decision amongst the organizations, it was agreed that proceeds from the calendars would support a number of local food banks experiencing an unprecedented surge of services.
“This calendar started as a fun and purposeful way to collaborate with our fellow non-profits in the area, but it has taken on a much larger role that is still in-line with our mission to inspire our community,” said Bryce Alexander, CEO and executive artistic director at The Naples Players.
In late 2020, The Community Foundation of Collier County stepped in to help regulate the sale of the calendars and subsequent distribution of funds. As of February 2021, more than $40,000 was distributed to eight different local food banks.
Calendars are still on sale and the support continues to roll in for this unique and inspiring collaboration. Those interested in purchasing a calendar can visit online at www.NaplesPlayers.org/CalendarGirls.
As for the show, it is finally set to open at The Naples Players Sugden Community Theatre on April 28, 2021.
Note: A greatly reduced number of seats are available to maintain safe distancing.