Known for connecting non-profit organizations from different sectors, Bryce's leadership is based on the communities he serves.
With the vision to help arts nonprofits clearly define the impact of Arts & Culture on our local and national landscapes, Bryce has built a foundation on clear messaging around the seismic economic, cultural, and humanitarian roles the industry plays in ensuring the health and vitality of every neighborhood.
Bryce was recently praised in Gulfshore Life Magazine (November 2021) as a "Man of the Year" for his work during the pandemic; and again a year earlier in Gulfshore Life Magazine (July 2020) for his leadership during the crisis. Heralded as the "Champion of the Arts," Bryce worked to connect international producers, local and state legislatures, local and county Emergency Medical Services, and city staff to discuss, advise, and advocate the appropriate steps for arts organizations to take during the pandemic. The articles read:
Man of The Year, Bryce Alexander, The Naples Players Executive Artistic Director
We love the action that unfolds on stage at Sugden Community Theatre, home to The Naples Players (TNP). Equally intriguing: the troupe’s off-stage activities, from its pandemic response to new community partnerships to its commitment to wellness and inclusivity.
At center stage is executive artistic director Bryce Alexander, who proved to be a master of improvisation when the 2019-2020 season went off script. Costume and set designers raced to stitch face masks and design plexiglass intubation boxes for medical workers. The theater went dark, but the troupe lit up the internet with concerts, comedy shows, educational programs, wellness offerings and even a full-length virtual play—the majority of it free. For a time, the nonprofit theater company moved outdoors, staging shows at Baker and Cambier Parks and at the Naples Zoo, where it produced a one-of-a-kind rendition of “Madagascar Jr.,” featuring young, animal-costumed performers along with real-life critters and zookeepers. “It allowed us to show the synergies between art and science,” Alexander says. “It’s too bad it took a global pandemic to teach us that lesson.”
The crisis brought renewed commitment to the nonprofit’s central tenet: That the arts are among a community’s core institutions—not an amenity on its margins. “We thought, ‘How can we serve the community?’ And, in turn, the community served us,” Alexander says.
Donors and smart in-house management allowed TNP to weather the financial crunch. Since the pandemic’s start, TNP has added seven staff and, this fall, launched a $15 million capital campaign to include theater renovations and expansions.
Alexander anticipates a traditional upcoming season, but hardly a return to status quo. The success of the virtual programs—212 classes, 24,000 audience members and 11,600 online students in 2020—prompted the company to reassess how it delivers programming and how it reaches beyond its downtown Naples core.
New collaborations have emerged. These include a program with the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center that combines equine and improv therapy and an agreement with the Collier County Public Schools to install theater programs in middle and high schools. Though TNP sustained $1.6 million in pandemic losses, the troupe still prioritizes looking outward, staging fundraisers to help other area nonprofits, such as a campaign built around the show “Calendar Girls” to address food insecurity. “Everybody is always raising money for themselves,” Alexander says. “We asked: ‘Why don’t we raise money for other organizations that benefit our community?’ It feels radical, but it is the basis of being a community-centric organization. We’re excited to continue that.”
Champion of the Arts, Bryce Alexander, The Naples Players Executive Artistic Director
Those in the theater world have mastered the fine art of shape-shifting—adapting themselves, their sets and their costumes to fit any part. In that light, what Bryce Alexander has led The Naples Players to do in these past months quite neatly fits their play bill.
Let’s start with the most extreme role they’ve taken on: personal protective equipment providers. At the onset of the pandemic, the costume shop stitched masks for NCH Healthcare System personnel. Then, set designers answered another call for help by building plexiglass intubation boxes to shield NCH doctors from COVID-19 exposure. The group had the materials on hand, remnants from the set of She Loved Me, and produced about a half dozen. “One of the first things we did as a staff was ask: What are the ways we can give back?” Alexander says.
The 25-person team (which he kept on full payroll) didn’t stop there. They rewrote the script for theater education and live performance, launching web-based programming ranging from children’s story hours to adult Improv for Isolation to a virtual version of their previously scheduled play Becky’s New Car. Produced through Zoom, the show is believed to be one of the first digital theater productions in the country. Alexander is clear that the format is an alternative—not a replacement—for live theater.
The $20 tickets for the show and other offerings, such as virtual benefit concerts, are designed to defray the troupe’s $15,000-a-day losses. The fundraising is critical because of the small company’s outsized civic roles, as a creative outlet, thought leader and economic engine. “We were part of rejuvenating downtown 20 years ago,” Alexander notes. “And we anticipate our leadership in bringing people together is going to be important in rejuvenating the businesses and restaurants on Fifth Avenue moving forward.”
Writing and Influence
Bryce believes in the important role that leaders play in providing useful and relevant information to the local community. Through a variety of mediums, Bryce is a frequent contributor to different publications. Here is a list of notable/recent additions: