Although the nonprofit had originally planned a Bradenton exhibition, it had to withdraw after State College of Florida officials asked to remove three banners. An attempt to find an alternative venue in downtown Bradenton was unsuccessful.
(April 14, 2023) Since 2004, Embracing Our Differences has used the power of art and prose to promote respect and kindness. One way it achieves this is through its annual, juried international outdoor art exhibition comprising 50 billboard-sized works of art, each accompanied by an inspirational quotation. This year’s response to the call for artwork and inspirational quotations for EOD’s 20th anniversary exhibit received 13,733 entries pouring in from 119 countries and 45 states. The exhibit ran January 18-March 12 in Bayfront Park, Sarasota. It then moved to Butler Park in North Port on March 22 and will be on display there through April 19.
Although EOD organizers had originally planned to also display its 20th anniversary exhibit at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, April 26 to May 29, EOD regretfully had to withdraw the exhibit after college officials asked for three banners to be removed from the exhibit. SCF officials also required that EOD remove the words “diversity” and “inclusion” from its welcome banner at the front of the exhibit.
“It was a painful choice to withdraw the exhibition altogether,” says Sarah Wertheimer, EOD’s executive director. “But it’s the only choice we had. Embracing Our Differences has remained and will continue to remain true to our core values, and those values include embracing and promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity. To do otherwise would betray our mission and turn our backs on those who have supported us over the past two decades.”
Still determined to show the exhibit in the Bradenton area, Wertheimer and her team met during the past two months with City of Bradenton officials to investigate other exhibit venues, including Village of the Arts and Riverwalk.
“After careful consideration, the Embracing Our Differences’ board of directors has decided not to move forward with a Bradenton location for the 20th anniversary exhibition. The approval timeline would not allow us the time to schedule needed services for exhibit set-up or properly market the exhibition to the community,” says Wertheimer.
“Although we are disappointed that this didn’t work this year, we are grateful to all of the Bradenton residents and businesses who called, sent letters and came in person to city meetings to show their support of EOD coming to Bradenton.”
This would not have been EOD’s first exhibit at Riverwalk.
Its exhibit was displayed there in 2013 for its 10th anniversary and also in 2014 and 2015. The three exhibits drew more than 125,000 visitors in total and approximately 24,000 Manatee County students toured the exhibit as part of EOD’s free educational outreach program.
“Riverwalk could be an ideal location for our exhibition,” says Wertheimer. “We hope to revisit this potential in the future.” She adds that the organization is also considering other nearby cities who have invited EOD to display future exhibits.
Wertheimer explains that the scope and impact of EOD’s outdoor exhibition has continued to grow since its inception in 2004. In the years that followed, it has attracted more than four million visitors and serves as a powerful tool to draw out-of-town visitors.
“Embracing Our Differences’ annual exhibition is a natural draw for visitors,” says Wertheimer. “It’s an open-air, free exhibit in accessible locations and has become a vital cultural destination for people from around the state and the country. This exhibition is a critical component of what defines our region as a sophisticated arts destination—and we know other cities are eager to make it part of their cultural offerings.”
Embracing Our Differences’ annual outdoor exhibits are the heart of a year-round program of activities designed to use art as a catalyst to create awareness and promote respect, kindness, and belonging.
For more information about Embracing Our Differences, call 941-404-5710 or visit www.embracingourdifferences.org.
About Embracing Our Differences
Embracing Our Differences is a nonprofit organization that uses the transformational power of art and education to celebrate and promote the diversity of the human family. It accomplishes this through an annual, large-scale outdoor juried art exhibition and a comprehensive series of educational initiatives, programs and resources designed for teachers and students. Visit www.embracingourdifferences.org.