The centerpiece of Embracing Our Differences is an outdoor juried international art exhibit featuring 45 billboard size images created by local, national and international artists, writers and students reflecting their interpretations of the theme "enriching lives through diversity."
Embracing Our Differences believes that diversity is one of the world’s greatest assets. To realize the promise of diversity, we must ensure that everyone is respected, included and valued for their individuality. Our goal is to create a community where diversity and inclusion are valued while teaching the importance of being an “up-stander,” not a “by- stander.”
Each year the Embracing Our Differences international art exhibit gets bigger and better. Our 13th annual exhibit in 2016 was no exception as we hosted 209,000 visitors bringing attendance, since 2004, to more than 2,300,000.
The 2016 exhibit received 8,350 submissions representing 104 countries, 44 states and 106 schools from such distant places as India, Iran, Israel, Vietnam and South Korea. The 2017 exhibit will run from April 1 thru May 31, 2017 in Island Park along Sarasota's bay front.
Our education initiatives represent the most important aspect of our efforts - reaching and impacting the lives of children. Since 2004, more than 237,000 students have participated in our education initiatives including 37,877 in 2016 alone. Compliments of our generous supporters, most of these students received free field trips to this exhibit – a lynchpin of our education efforts.
In addition, a variety of resources are provided to teachers which include workshops presented by nationally recognized educators and age appropriate lesson plans prepared under the supervision of Sarasota County School District curriculum development specialists.
As a result of these initiatives, students participate year round in a variety of activities based upon a well-planned curriculum of art appreciation, character building and diversity education. Embracing Our Differences continues to be one of the largest education programs in Southwest Florida.
We look forward to this year's exhibit and providing an opportunity for our community to deepen its awareness that embracing our differences, respecting the beliefs of others and standing up against hatred and prejudice will lead to a better world. Embracing our diversity and moving beyond tolerance to genuine acceptance and respect is not only a way of thinking and feeling – but most importantly, of acting. Together, we can create a vibrant community where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated.