The nonprofit Florida Theatre is pleased to announce The Marquee Project, an effort to use the signboards of the historic Florida Theatre’s marquee to bring attention to Jacksonville’s historical figures, the diverse people who made a lasting contribution to the rich history of our city, state and nation. The marquee of the historic Florida Theatre is seen by over 5,000 people a day. Each week, a slide featuring a different historical person will be put in rotation with the slides that advertise upcoming events at the venue. Under the heading, “We Celebrate Jacksonville,” that person’s name, photo, birth and death years, and a brief description of their contributions to society will be featured.
The goals of the project are: to bring attention to historical persons who had a significant connection to Jacksonville as a native or a resident; to honor persons who lived in the past, although persons currently living who meet the other criteria will not necessarily be excluded; to emphasize the diversity of our community; to bring attention to lesser known persons who may not have achieved “marquee name” status in their lifetimes; and to honor persons whose values and actions resulted in achievements that had a significant impact on other people’s lives, as well as the life of our city, state and nation.
Steve Smith and PC Bryant are Members of the Florida Theatre’s Board of Directors, and Co-Chairs of the Board's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. In a joint statement, they said, "Since opening as a nonprofit performing arts venue in 1983, the Florida Theatre has been a wonderful showcase for a diverse array of performers of all races, ethnicities, and artistic genres. As a committee, however, we are focused on making use of the organization's other assets to call more attention to the rich history of Jacksonville, and its richly diverse citizens. Up to 2,000 people might see a Florida Theatre show, but over 5,000 people a day see the Florida Theatre's marquee. Thus the idea for The Marquee Project was born."
Florida Theatre President Numa Saisselin says that a new person will be featured every week, and nominations are welcome from the public, although such nominations will be rigorously screened against the criteria established for inclusion. “We get calls all the time asking if we could wish someone a happy birthday, or commemorate a special occasion. This is not that. This is an effort to bring attention to historical Jacksonville natives and residents who made a contribution to our society, and might have been overlooked.” Nominations and suggestions can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org, and past marquees are featured on the Theatre’s website.