For 20 years, Embracing Our Differences has drawn on the passion and perception of artists, students, writers, and others to create powerful statements of diversity, respect, kindness and acceptance in its annual outdoor public art exhibition consisting of 50 billboard-sized works of art and accompanying quotations. The scale and impact of this outdoor exhibition has continued to grow, attracting more than four million visitors since its inception.

Sarah Wertheimer, EOD’s executive director, explains that monumental positive change and forward movement has happened in 20 years.

“Our first call to artists received 124 submissions,” says Wertheimer. “This year, we received 13,733 from 119 countries, and we’re thrilled that annual visitor attendance has quadrupled since we began. Less than 100,000 people attended the first exhibit; we had almost 400,000 last year.”

Wertheimer says that more milestones have been achieved with EOD’s ongoing educational initiatives. “Twenty years ago, we reached 1,200 students with our educational programming. Last year, our education initiatives touched the lives of 52,274 students,” she says. Wertheimer adds that the organization has also added many more programs in the past five years, including two different reading programs in Sarasota-Manatee schools; an annual scholarship program for high school and college students; programs created for high school students that feature docent training as part of the Coexistence Club experience and a Unity Day program; and teacher workshops that provide area educators with skills, strategies and resources relating to arts appreciation, character building and diversity education.

“All of these milestones were achieved with the support of our extended family of educators, students, volunteers, board members, community foundations, and donors. They have stayed with us every step of the way and made our journey possible.”

Wertheimer adds that EOD’s 20th anniversary theme is “Embracing Kindness,” and the organization is planning several special events to celebrate the 2023 exhibit, including exhibiting it at two new venues.

“We’re excited to have been asked to display the 2023 exhibit at Butler Park in North Port and at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota in Bradenton (maybe that’s not needed). And, of course, we’ll open the exhibit at Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota.” Wertheimer says that the public should expect a series of events commemorating the anniversary throughout the year, starting with a Grand Opening event on January 22 in Bayfront Park.

How can area residents and visitors help celebrate EOD’s 20th?

By “joining us in creating a world where kindness, respect and individuality are valued,” says Wertheimer.

“This universal message is a message of action. It’s coming together and not closing our eyes to people in need. Each one of us holds the key to open the door to kindness, compassion and understanding. Now, more than ever, it’s time to work together to eliminate the barriers of prejudice that hold back the full range of human potential. Today, the message of Embracing Our Differences—that of inclusion, respect and kindness—is more vital than ever.”


A Quick Glance at Embracing Our Differences’ 20th Anniversary Schedule and Celebrations

Sarasota Exhibit (Bayfront Park):

  • Opens: 1/18/2023
  • Last Day: 3/12/2023

North Port Exhibit (Butler Park):

  • Opens: 3/22/2023
  • Last Day: 4/19/2023

Bradenton Exhibit (State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota):

  • Opens: 4/26/2023
  • Last Day: 5/29/2023
  • Grand Opening Event at Bayfront Park: Sunday, January 22, 2023
  • Grand Opening Event at Butler Park: Saturday, March 25, 2023 
  • Grand Opening Event at State College of Florida: Saturday, April 29, 2023
  • Annual Luncheon at Michael’s On East: Friday, February 17, 2023

For more information about Embracing Our Differences, call 941-404-5710, or visit


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