Point of View

June 6, 2011, 3:38 pm
Filed under: At the Center

“Ayikodans performances a triumph!” exclaimed the headline in the Miami Herald. “A weekend of shows to benefit the beleaguered Haitian dance troupe was a rousing success that exceeded organizers’ hopes,” said Herald dance critic Jordan Levin.

Photo by Carl Juste

Intensely aware of the precarious position of many Haitian arts groups following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, the Center committed to producing a fundraiser for the company—originally two performances, which grew to three due to the extraordinary demand for tickets—scheduled for May 21 & 22. The Center also commissioned a new work from the company, set to premiere in Miami in the spring of the 2011/12 Dance at the Arsht season.The goal was to help the company through its immediate challenges—and the Adrienne Arsht Center convened an outstanding group of community leaders committed to helping Aykodans develop long term tools for success so that they can continue to inspire pride in the strength, beauty and richness of Haitian culture. 

“We have helped save a very important dance company from Haiti, whose future is brighter as a result of our efforts,” said Adrienne Arsht Center President John Richard. “The results are stunning by any measuring stick—transformative, world class, community-based—a triple play on our mission chart.”

Supporters of the modern dance group, which is led by Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus, raised $117,000. An additional $141,874 in-kind support was secured from a dedicated committee of influential Miami leaders. Support included professional expertise, creative talent, products and other resources, much of which will benefit Ayikodans long into the future. A future that—with these efforts and the company’s own bounty of artistic gifts—is now bright with promise.

“Judging by the power and quality of Ayikodans’ Saturday night performance, Saintus’ battle has already been an artistic triumph,” continued Levin in her review. “The dancers were magnificent, exhibiting a mesmerizing combination of powerful technique, physicality and emotional intensity.”

June 6, 2011, 3:38 pm
Filed under: At the Center

Amid the excitement of the approaching end of what has been a remarkable 5th Anniversary Season, the Adrienne Arsht Center hosted its first-ever State of the Arsht presentation earlier this month.  The event was part of the Center Advancement team’s series of  5th Anniversary signature events, which also included the season preview Insider’s Look, the Bombay Sapphire Lounge Private Donor Opening, the 5th Anniversary Season Gala, and the recent Green Room Society Spring Fling.

Photo by Manny Hernandez

Designed to showcase the Center’s history and ambitious goals for the future, State of the Arsht was attended by business and civic leaders, diplomatic representatives, Board members, staff and some of Miami’s most noted philanthropists.  Suzanna Valdez, Vice-President of Advancement, welcomed the crowd,  saying “Today’s event is an opportunity for us to share with you some of the highlights of our first years in service to the Miami community.”  In the presentation by John Richard that followed, the Center’s president and CEO said, “The Arsht Center’s mission has evolved just as our community has matured. ‘Entertain, Educate, Stimulate and Impact’ – this is the staircase of our mission.”

Indeed, the Center has come a long way since it opened its doors in the fall of 2006 by serving the community through its many and diverse arts education and outreach programs. For example, Learning Through the Arts thus far has invited 52,000 Miami-Dade fifth graders to come see a free live performance at no cost and will soon bring a new class of fifth graders to the Center this fall. Free Gospel Sundays brings nearly 2000 music lovers four times each year to the Knight Concert Hall for a free concert by the finest local gospel choirs and award-winning gospel stars from around the country.

All these accomplishment have come about with strong leadership and responsible fiscal management—the Center, in fact, has maintained a balanced budget for the last three years. In this regard, Carlos Garcia, partner at Goldstein Schecter Koch, stated “we believe in the Center and what it is doing for our city.” Indeed, these accomplishments underscore strong private, corporate, and public support, for which the Center is grateful.

June 6, 2011, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Performing Arts News

Last year, the Adrienne Arsht Center and  City Theatre co-presented the world premiere production of Camp Kappawanna, an original musical inspired by Lisa Loeb’s Camp Lisa CD. The show played to happy family audiences that packed the theater for its two-week run and got rave reviews for its catchy music and loveable characters. This year, the hit musical—born and developed in the Center’s Carnival Studio Theater—is back by popular demand and goes on the road to delight audiences up and down the South Florida coast! The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale, as well as the Adrienne Arsht Center, all play host to the musical theater  treat that will satisfy families looking for something fun and entertaining to do this summer!

Photo by George Shiavone

Camp Kappawanna celebrates timeless camp experiences with hip music penned by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb along with a book by Miami’s own Marco Ramirez. From beginning to end, Camp Kappawanna makes audiences of all generations feel as if they, too, are joining in the fun of summer camp!

June 6, 2011, 3:30 pm
Filed under: AileyCamp, Volunteerism

This time of year brings a whole new wave of AileyCamp Miami participants to our doors, and it takes a significant amount of volunteer support to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  April 30th was the kick-off date for AileyCamp Miami 2011. Auditions and interviews were conducted for potential campers. More than 400 candidates turned out for the chance to experience what has been called the finest dance training camp in the country.

This year,  the Center’s Volunteer Services team recruited its Youth Corps volunteers—who are under 18 years old—along with their volunteering parents, to make the Ailey Campers’ first look at the Arsht Center welcoming.  The energy of the youth corps was essential to the success of the day – the runners spent the entire day taking the younger campers to their interviews and auditions.  The Center’s volunteer youth corps is close in age to that of the Campers themselves, making them ideal Center ambassadors for this program.

At this event, three of the Center’s volunteering families participated.  15-year-old Madisyn Fluitt volunteers with her grandmother Lilian and mother Edith; 15-year-old David Weiss often volunteers alongside his Dad, Shay; and 15-year-old Marniece Holmes was an Ailey Camper last year and now volunteers as much as possible for Ailey events with her mother Marniece Dixon.     

Families who volunteer together is nothing new for the Center’s volunteer program, which boasts multigenerational participation every week!  Having a parent volunteer with a Youth Corps member strengthens the commitment for both to sign up for a variety of events, and creates a unique arts-related way for families to spend time together. Most of these young volunteers will continue working with AileyCamp over the summer, and the Center is fortunate that it can count on such bright and shining stars!

June 6, 2011, 3:29 pm
Filed under: About the Center, Volunteerism

The Adrienne Arsht Center offers internship opportunities for motivated, self-actuating young people in programming, marketing, production, operations and administration. So far, more than 55 students from around the country have participated in the Center’s program.

None of these internships are dreary paper-pushing positions. “Interning at the Center is a real-life experience. We don’t just simulate a workplace, we give you responsibilities and a body of work, and the expectations are pretty high,” says Trish Brennan, Vice President of Human Resources. For a young performing arts center, internships are one of the best ways to connect with communities by literally investing in talented and capable youths.

At 17, Claudia Cereceda, from iPrep Academy, has been working at the Center as a front-of-house intern twice a week since November and is “involved in just about everything,” reports Theater Manager Alice Fifelski. “She’s not treated as a kid, but as an equal. She’s one of us. She’s given responsibility, and she can handle it.”

The internship led Claudia to an evening in April when she served as house manager for one of the spring season’s flagship shows, The Sparrow. A job description for house manager at the Adrienne Arsht Center can read like an adventure novel. House managers are at the front line of making the theatergoing experience as pleasurable and rewarding as possible for every patron who walks in the door. They are often asked to make split-minute decisions to resolve unforeseen issues involving ticketing, seating, accessibility, and visibility—you name it—right on the spot—before, during and sometimes after the show!

Claudia tells us what her experience as an intern has meant to her.

What have you learned?

“Being the front-of-house intern has taught me so much about what goes into putting on a show. I’ve learned that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that a regular audience member isn’t always aware of…and it’s quite a demanding job!

How has your time at the Center brought you closer to the community?

“One thing I admire about the Arsht Center is their commitment to community outreach programs. Events like the Free Family Fests are a great example of how the Center is working hard to spread culture into our community.”

In a sentence, how would you summarize the experience?

“I’ve been truly blessed to be able to intern at the Adrienne Arsht Center because the people here are so caring and they’ve all helped to make this a great experience for me.”

May 10, 2011, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the hottest tickets in town this year was the Spring Fling hosted by the Center’s young patrons group, the Green Room Society. On April 30, 2011, an energetic event inspired by the theatrical sensation The Sparrow gave donors a flashback to adolescence at Small Town USA’s Spring Farm dance. Guests enjoyed BOMBAY SAPPHIRRE™ cocktails and Heineken while dancing the night away under shiny disco lights in a prom setting at in the Peacock Foundation Studio.

May 10, 2011, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As a nonprofit, mission-based organization, community involvement is at the heart of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s institutional character. You don’t have to look far to find Center staff members who are engaged with other organizations throughout South Florida.

Just recently, Adrienne Arsht Center President and CEO John Richard has been elected to the board of directors for one of South Florida’s largest healthcare organizations: Miami Jewish Health Systems (MJHS). Founded as a nursing home in 1940, MJHS today stands as one of one of the most innovative, full-service healthcare providers in the southeast U.S., with a team of nearly 1,000 employees serving 3,700 people daily on the organization’s Miami campus and at facilities across South Florida.

“This is a move that aligns South Florida’s chief cultural arts institution with one of the region’s longest-standing healthcare providers,” said Mr. Richard. “I look forward to applying lessons I’ve learned at the Adrienne Arsht Center to my work with Miami Jewish Health Systems, and vice versa. Community participation has always been important to me, and I am hopeful that my involvement with MJHS will inspire other members of our team to get engaged in a cause that matters to them.”

Other examples of involvement among the Center’s senior leadership include Executive Vice President Scott Shiller’s role in South Florida’s arts community. Scott serves as Vice Chairman of both the Carbonell Awards and the Rosie Herrera Committee, and as a member of the Broadway League.

VP of Human Relations Trish Brennan is on the board of directors for ArtSouth, a nonprofit arts organization in Homestead, Florida. VP of Advancement Suzanna Valdez is involved with Miami Science Museum and the Community Partnership for the Homeless. VP of Marketing Andrew Goldberg serves on the Foundation Board for the New World School of the Arts and as a member of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Creative Industries Committee. Associate VP of Public Relations Suzette Espinosa Fuentes is involved with Arts for Learning and Public Relations Society of America.

May 10, 2011, 6:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

On Thursday, May 19, the MOCA Shakers, Miami Emerging Leaders Council, South Florida Young Adults and the Brickell Brats join the Adrienne Arsht Center to welcome the cast of Cirque Eloize iD! These and other community and social groups such as the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, Birthright Israel, Miami Sports and Social Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters will enjoy the Cirque Eloize iD Kickoff Party on the Thomson Plaza for the Arts from 6:30pm to 8:30pm— the latest example of the Center’s beautiful outdoor plaza serving as Miami’s “town square.”

The Cirque Eloize iD Kickoff Party is a special free event previewing the Center’s summer theatrical spectacle that begins performances July 26. It will feature live graffiti art by artists from Primary Flight— Miami’s original open air museum and street level mural installation, responsible for mural art in the Wynwood Art District. Guests can get a temporary tattoo at the “tattoo shop,” snap a customized digital photo, and take a spin on the prize wheel for cool merchandise giveaways. All guests will have the opportunity to enter to win two free tickets for an upcoming Cirque Eloize iD show and a weekend “staycation” in Downtown Miami. The night
will end with a bang when the cast shows off with a
spectacular display of acrobatic stunts.

For more information about this event and Cirque Eloize iD, click here.

May 10, 2011, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Reflecting on the incredible season thus far of Family Fest activities and performances, the Adrienne Arsht Center Education and Outreach Manager Jairo Ontiveros can’t help but smile. So far more than 4,000 people have taken part in Family Fest fun this year—with a total of 23,673 kids and adults since the series began in 2008. The season concludes on Saturday, May 14 with “Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco,” a Big Easy-style party, spotlighting American Roots music from Louisiana and Mardis Gras-flavored fun for the whole family! The fun begins at 11:30 AM in the Thomson Plaza for the Arts and moves indoors to the Knight Concert Hall at 2 PM.

This season has been a diverse spectacle of music and dance. At the Milkshake concert in November, kids were so inspired by the Grammy nominated band that they rocked out in a mosh pit with the ‘electric’ guitars they had just crafted themselves. In January, the Knight Concert Hall was filled to capacity for a performance by Balé Folclórico da Bahia, whose capoeira, samba and carnival style moves and music captivated families. Youngsters then took a musical trip around the world with the global rhythms of the Miami Music Project in March.

These are just a few highlights from this year’s free Family Fest series, which always feature family-friendly out-of-doors activities and performances that provide engaging opportunities for parents to share arts activities with their children.

May 10, 2011, 6:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am very thrilled to be part of The Sparrow’s Ghost Class. I had so much fun promoting the play. I wore The Sparrow shirt in public, posted flyers around Miami, passed out flyers at the Carnival on the Mile, and posted about the play on Facebook and Twitter. I received some pretty cool things in return, like a signed Wicked poster and the invitation to the Broadway 2011–2012 Season Announcement Party.

I was very excited and overjoyed to find out that I won the walk-on role in The Sparrow. I always dreamed of what it would be like to perform onstage with real actors. It was like a dream come true. I was ecstatic to meet the cast. They were all so nice and they made me feel like I was really part of the show. Watching the cast rehearse and performing with them felt so awesome. During the show, I was really nervous and I got stage fright. I had butterflies in my stomach and I kept hoping that I wouldn’t mess up. But once I walked to the stage, I didn’t feel anxious anymore. I waited for my cue, which was “And here comes the tip,” and threw the ball. I was having so much fun. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to be part of The Sparrow. It has been such an amazing and wonderful experience.

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