Every fall, when we tell you what's looking good in the arts season ahead, it's a pretty safe bet to assume there'll be some familiar names on our critics' lists: the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Ruth Eckerd Hall, American Stage, Jannus Landing, the Museum of Fine Arts. That's hardly a bad thing: These and other big-name institutions are our cultural mainstays, dependable purveyors of high-quality stuff without which there wouldn't be an arts season.
But to vary the palette a bit, our fall arts package this time also features an eclectic array of Small Wonders — cultural organizations that you may not know about. Arts educators and dancers working miracles with kids; theater troupes passionately dedicated to breaking boundaries; designers and visual artists banding together to improve communities; music lovers keeping genres like blues and jazz alive for local audiences.
Together, the What to Watch For lists and the Small Wonders profiles should give you a handy overview of what to explore in coming months. I've already started marking my most-anticipated WTWFs: the Bay area Latin fest Arte 2007 (including Spanish art plus Spanish food at Florida Craftsmen); the dancing Mata Hari at TBPAC; plays by three stellar American playwrights, Kenneth Lonergan, Jeffrey Hatcher and Lee Blessing; music from Kim Richey and Trombone Shorty; Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Paul Giamatti-as-Santa (!) at the movies.
But I'm going to keep my eye on those Small Wonders, too. The biggest thrills of the season may well come in the most unassuming packages.
Fall Arts '07