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Arts Center inching forward

January 24, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

In just a short period of time, the Lee County Arts Center of North Fort Myers has created a logo, found someone to lead them through the paperwork in becoming a non-profit 501 c 3, created a brochure, gotten a table for next month's Taste of North Fort Myers, and much more.

Such fast progress can be a real heady thing and for the Arts Center's president, Maryanne Howard, it has been all she can handle.

The biggest thing has been to get through the process of becoming a 501 c 3 non-profit. Vice president Rudy Berndlmaier volunteered to donate the money necessary to get that work done, which is very pricey.

Thankfully, he didn't have to spend all of it. Mark Lipton, who is also running for the Florida State House in District 79, said he would help it through the process. They will only have to pay the fees to the government, Howard said.

The goal is to raise $500,000 to purchase land and put up a building. The group can only raise money through memberships currently, and its attempt at a GoFundMe account failed.

"One of the first fundraisers we plan are pop-up tents. Rachel Busch (of the Economic Development Office, tasked with helping in the revitalization of the area) said she can possibly get Merchants Crossing for us to put tents there and have artists display their work, which will bring more momentum," Howard said.

To help get them started, they will sell items donated by artists at the Taste of North Fort Myers on Feb. 25, where Sun Country Realty, which has been a huge supporter of the center and holds its meetings at their office on Pondella Road, will have two tables set up.

There also will be a set-up with the Civic Association at this weekend's Gumbo Fest

"We have some artwork here and we're still looking for more artists to donate things. Any money raised will be donated to the arts center," Howard said. "Anywhere we can get exposure is where we want to be."

In the meantime, they will look for a Realtor to help find a temporary site in which to hold classes, performances, shows for all sorts of media and more.

"We're looking at the place near Daddy Dee's Ice Cream, a vacant office location we might be able to get for a short time," Howard said. "Once we have our 501 c 3, we'll be able to have fundraisers."

Their brochure includes an artist application, a description of what the Arts Center is about, areas of interest and how to become a member.

The group has also worked with the web site company Go Daddy to acquire the rights to several names so each name can direct people to the site. The names acquired so far are and

As for the logo, originally submitted weeks ago, it has been changed this past week to include "North Fort Myers," which was a sticking point in the beginning when the commuity's name was not included.

For more information on the arts center, contact Howard at



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