Behind the Scenes of ¡ARTE VIVA!

Get insights and tips in this interview with John Melleky, Arts and Culture Manager for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau, as he explains the story and efforts behind ¡ARTE VIVA!: A Celebration of Hispanic Arts and Culture.

Three colorful sugar skulls

What inspired the Paradise Coast to host ¡ARTE VIVA!?

The project is a collaborative effort among our arts and culture organizations. About 30% of our population is Hispanic, and several groups realized they were each doing their own events built around Hispanic arts and culture themes. So, they decided to bring their events together as ¡ARTE VIVA!, and the program quickly grew from three or four events to more than thirty.

What makes the Paradise Coast the perfect place to experience ¡ARTE VIVA!?

Along with our large Hispanic population, the Paradise Coast’s historic love of the visual and performing arts means we are able to bring together the full spectrum of artistic expression in a single destination. From the opera to the working artists of the Naples Arts District, visitors and locals alike are able to explore their favorite artists and works or discover new pleasures amid the rich tapestry of Hispanic arts and culture found only here on the Paradise Coast.

How does ¡ARTE VIVA! capture the diversity of Hispanic art and culture?

The expansive nature of a year-long festival means ¡ARTE VIVA! has the time and space to explore the full range of Hispanic arts and culture. The festival features Día de los Muertos celebrations from Mexico, landscape photography from Cuba, performances showcasing playwright Quiara Alegira Hudes, dance including Zarzuela music and flamenco, and a range of Latin jazz groups. It’s more than a single week or even a single month can hold, so we have spread things out to make it possible for people to experience it all at their own pace.

What are some of the events people should be sure to experience?

The events surrounding Día de los Muertos in October and November will be extraordinary with artist Ricardo Soltero bringing his amazing La Calavera Catrina creations to Naples Botanical Garden. The many events centered on the life and legacy of artist Frida Kahlo also promise to be both inspiring and unforgettable. The holiday events in December, built around the Christmas tradition of Las Posadas, will be something everyone should experience. And the musical performances planned for the spring – including a performance of Bizet’s Carmen under the stars – should be on any music lover’s to-do list!