Point of View

5,000 Role Models of Excellence Scholarship Ceremony
May 27, 2009, 1:34 am
Filed under: Education

The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project held its Sixteenth Annual Scholarship Ceremony last Friday at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Forty-five graduating high school seniors were each honored with a two-year, pre-paid scholarship and a laptop computer.

The Role Models Project is the brainchild of Senator Frederica Wilson and has benefitted thousands of young men in Miami-Dade County Public Schools since 1993, due to the realization that there is an ongoing crisis in the lives of many young males. 

The keynote speaker for the scholarship ceremony was motivational speaker Robert Jackson who is a former Minnesota Vikings running back and the author of No More Excuses:  Black Men Stand Up. 

The project’s mission is to intervene in the lives of at-risk boys, in order to provide them with alternatives that will lead them away from a life of crime and violence. In this innovative program, young males ages 9-19 are paired with successful, professional adult volunteers, who provide advice, guidance and educational assistance. The program serves 82 schools, which include 16 elementary, 34 middle and 32 senior high Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

5,000 Role Models Award Recipients. Photos by Tom Gordon

5,000 Role Models Award Recipients. Photos by Tom Gordon

Adrienne Arsht Center Plays a Starring Role in the 41st Annual International Pow Wow
May 27, 2009, 1:13 am
Filed under: About the Center

The Adrienne Arsht Center joined representatives from all areas of the local hospitality industry last week to make Miami shine as attendees from more than 70 countries descended on the city for the U.S. Travel Association’s International POW WOW. Of the nearly 4,000 participants in POW WOW, more than 450 included travel journalists from over 40 countries all here to experience our beautiful city and aiming the spotlight on Miami’s world-class performing arts center! Pow Wow is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of US travels.

Artist Krave Paints Live at Pow Wow. Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Artist Krave Paints Live at Pow Wow. Photo by Mitchell Zachs

In just three days, more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations and close to 1,500 international and domestic buyers conducted business negotiations that would otherwise have only been generated through an exhaustive number of around-the-world trips. Miami officials anticipate that hosting the International Pow Wow will result in about $400 million worth of business to the city over the next 3 years.

Dancers on stage; photo by Mitchell Zachs

Dancers on stage; photo by Mitchell Zachs

The Grand Farewell Party last Wednesday evening featured the best of Miami’s Arts & Culture. Pow Wow delegates poured into all of the Arsht Center’s indoor and outdoor spaces, including lobbies, theaters, lounges and rehearsal spaces for an evening of festive food, libations and entertainment. Rainbow Strings Violin Ensemble played from a balcony down to guests in the Knight Concert Hall Lobby while 21st Century Steel Band played on a stage from Biscayne Boulevard on the Thomson Plaza for the Arts. Marischen Jazz Harp then fired up from the Ziff Ballet Opera House Lobby while the Junkanoo Parade,  accompanied by acrobatic dancers on stilts, whipped guests into a frenzy out on the street.

Junkanoo performs on Biscayne Blvd. Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Junkanoo performs on Biscayne Blvd. Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Guests enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to nosh from Barton G’s mouth-watering buffet set right on the second largest stage in the country, the Ziff Ballet Opera House! “What an incredible way to see this theatre”, said Lauren Hill, visiting from New York, “I feel like I am the performer looking out at the audience!”

Other signature Miami performance groups continued the energy into the evening including Momentum Dance Company, Miami Lyric Opera, Live in Color Dance Collective, Ife Ile, Brazz Dance Theater, and Ballet Flamenco La Rosa. One of the evenings most climactic performances took place on the wall of the historic Carnival Art Deco Tower. Animate Objects hung perilously off the tower, dancing to beating drums accompanied by colored shapes and spectacular lighting projected onto the Tower. Guests looked up in awe at the spectacle and eagerly applauded. Meanwhile, the Knight Concert Hall was alive with the music of La Guarachera de Cuba as the star of the Arsht Center’s summer season, Celia Cruz: The Musical, got guests dancing and clapping to La Negra Tiene Tumbao—an amazing lead-up to her June 2 return to the Center.

Animate Objects Perform on the Carnival Tower. Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Animate Objects Perform on the Carnival Tower. Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Grammy-award winning Jose Feliciano then stole the hearts of Pow Wow guests with two solo acoustic sets paying tribute to Celia, The Doors, and Elvis Presley. As guests exited the Knight Concert Hall, they were greeted by the funky sounds of Scott Klarman Sax who rocked a mean Stevie Wonder and then back out onto the Plaza, where Carlos Oliva & Los Sobrinos del Juez made people get out onto the street to dance just as the Brazilian parade with ornate costumes and feathered headpieces brought the party to another level with the beat beat beat!

At the end of the party, once the bars were closed and the food was gone, guests lingered on, not wanting the night to end. Pow Wow and the Adrienne Arsht Center managed to make quite an impression on Miami’s new friends from out of town!

Sofia Vergara, star of Chicago, Sparks Media Frenzy
May 26, 2009, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Broadway Across America

South Florida media descended on the Adrienne Arsht Center last Monday when Latina starlet Sofia Vergara took a break from her Broadway debut in the hit musical Chicago to promote her star appearance as “Matron Mama Morton” when the show visits Miami from May 26 – 31.

Sofia Vergara at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Photo by Ian Ibbetson

Sofia Vergara at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Photo by Ian Ibbetson

More than 60 media outlets, from celebrity magazines and international news agencies to local TV news crews and daily papers, turned out to hear from the first major Latin celebrity to star in a Broadway show at the Center. Amidst the constant flash of cameras, Vergara shared with press her excitement about performing in a Broadway musical for the first time, calling the experience both “nerve-wracking” and “fantastic.”

Adrienne Arsht Center Shares Ideas at the Arts Education Luncheon
May 26, 2009, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Education

Community leaders in the arts education field gathered at the Adrienne Arsht Center last Wednesday for a roundtable discussion of the state of arts education in the South Florida community.

Among those in attendance were David Lawrence, President of Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, R.T. Davis, Music Supervisor at Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), Francine Andersen, Chief of Arts Education at Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as deans from various South Florida colleges and universities. The topic at hand was the arts as an essential role in education and how the Adrienne Arsht Center can foster the development of a dynamic, cohesive and exciting teaching environment for students, teachers and parents.

In thinking strategically towards the future, the participants emphasized the critical need for collaborative efforts between arts organizations, the public school system and institutions of higher learning in order to leverage resources and maximize meaningful impact of the arts.

The Center presented its upcoming 2009/2010 arts education program to this group, many of them experts in their field, to obtain their valuable input. With continued programs such as the Jazz Roots classroom residencies, as well as new projects like AileyCamp, the Center is poised to reach out to every child in the public school system with live performing arts events.

  • Beginning in August 2009, the Jazz Roots education program will have a presence in 8 Miami-Dade County Public Schools with national jazz scholars leading classroom residencies focusing on musicianship, composition and artistry, providing students with hands-on, in-depth experience over the course of a week-long residency.  
  • Highlighting the partnership with M-DCPS, the Beyond Boundaries School Program gives ownership of the creative process to both educators and pupils and encourages innovative thinking, self confidence and cooperative learning through school day residencies, distance learning, and teacher training programs.
  •  AileyCamp, in partnership with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will reach out to at-risk youth in the County through an engaging arts education experience. Over a four-week session beginning in July 2009, this summer day camp will serve approximately 80 at-risk youth ages 11-14 from diverse ethnic backgrounds, with the majority of campers coming from minority communities. Through disciplined dance training, creative writing instruction, personal development and communication workshops, AileyCampers will have a meaningful arts experience that will impact their lives far beyond the four-week program.
  • Partnering once again with M-DCPS, the Adrienne Arsht Center will begin a new initiative in 2010 called Learning Through the Arts. In the next five years, the Center will work to build the program so that every child in the public school system will see three live performing arts events over the course of their public school education. The Center will begin this program by bringing all Miami-Dade County 5th grade students to the Center, free of cost, to experience live professional performing arts for three weeks in April 2010. The Center’s first show in this program will be Rock Odyssey, an innovative spin on the Homer classic that chronicles the epic journey in an accessible and theatrical rock opera style, supplemented by curriculum materials and lesson plans.

 The Adrienne Arsht Center plans to lead the way in creating opportunities for exploration and self-expression in the performing arts. The aim of these programs are to foster creative thinking skills, boost self-esteem, expand the horizons of the participants, and provide new and innovate ways of learning traditional subjects through the arts.

May is Membership Month
May 19, 2009, 1:20 am
Filed under: Membership

May is Membership Month at the Adrienne Arsht Center! Throughout the month of May, Members have been celebrated with Members’-only events and grand introductions to some amazing benefits.

Members will soon receive their very own Adrienne Arsht Center membership card, which allows them entry into the many Members-only events, including the highly-anticipated Opening Night After-Party for Chicago (Tuesday, May 26) where guests will feast on traditional deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs, complete with celery salt!

May also delivers the Adrienne Arsht Center’s list of Visionary Restaurant Partners. Members can discover new cuisines with at least 15% off their bill at selected eateries. Click here to see this month’s list. Each month, more local restaurants will be added to please Arsht Center members’ palettes and pocketbooks.

Arsht Center Members are at the center of this institution. Support through membership not only helps secure the future of the Adrienne Arsht Center but also shows the overall commitment to enhancing our growing artistic community. In fact, 85% of the Adrienne Arsht Center staff joined as members this month, illustrating that leading by example in the community is crucial in building a solid foundation of support!


Adrienne Arsht Center staff, Gabe Manevielle, signs up as a brand new Green Room Society member!

Adrienne Arsht Center staff, Gabe Manevielle, signs up as a brand new Green Room Society member!

Arts Organizations from around the U.S. gather at Adrienne Arsht Center
May 18, 2009, 6:44 pm
Filed under: At the Center

The Adrienne Arsht Center hosted 66 top executives from arts organizations throughout the United States invited to participate in the prestigious National Arts Strategies Strategic Marketing Seminar on May 14 and 15. Professors from Harvard Business School led two days of active, participatory discussions that challenged arts leaders from 17 different arts organizations – from art museums and zoos to theaters and performing arts presenters – to take a fresh look at both their organizations and the field of culture.

66 top executives from arts organizations throughout the US at the National Arts Strategies Strategic Marketing Seminar

66 top executives from arts organizations throughout the US at the National Arts Strategies Strategic Marketing Seminar

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s own team participated as did executives from our partners at Miami City Ballet, Florida Grand Opera, Cleveland Orchestra and Miami Light Project. Hailing from Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Cleveland, Washington D.C. and even just across the County line in Broward, the visiting organizations also had the opportunity to enjoy a docent-led tour of the Center and views of downtown during lunch time every day as part of the experience!

Happy 50th Anniversary, Lincoln Center!
May 18, 2009, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Lincoln Center

Last week the New York Philharmonic played Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” for Lincoln Center’s 50th anniversary, the piece Leonard Bernstein conducted at the center’s 1959 groundbreaking. As Lincoln Center begins its 50th-anniversay celebrations and the Adrienne Arsht Center looks ahead towards its 5th, the Center staff is taking a poignant moment to pause—to celebrate Lincoln Center’s tremendous achievements while simultaneously considering the mission and future of the Adrienne Arsht Center.  With groundbreakings separated by more than four decades, the similarities of the two institutions are quite striking.  Both were ambitious construction projects led by a consortium of civic leaders; and both present the greatest artists and finest productions from around the world. Like the Adrienne Arsht Center, Lincoln Center has critically acclaimed resident companies, three of which—the New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theatre, and the Jazz Orchestra of Lincoln Center led by Wynton Marsalis—have given us some of the finest evenings of music and dance to grace our own Adrienne Arsht Center stages. Perhaps most importantly, both centers are passionate about creating access to the arts for all segments of their communities and making performances and arts education programs as available to as wide an audience as possible.

duskshot w-car

Lincoln Center has had local, regional, national and worldwide impact as millions of people have been beneficiaries of what was thought to be a high risk experiment in 1959.  In many ways, it has served as a model for the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Music Center, the Adrienne Arsht Center, and virtually every other performing arts complex built in this country in the last five decades. As a catalyst for urban renewal it played a significant role in reviving New York’s Upper West Side neighborhood much like the Adrienne Arsht Center serves as a catalyst for driving new commercial, residential and retail business to Miami-Dade County’s Omni neighborhood.  More than one billion dollars has been invested in the surrounding area since construction of the Adrienne Arsht Center began.

Like Lincoln Center, the Adrienne Arsht Center’s long dream is still unfolding. Last month the Adrienne Arsht Center celebrated its one-millionth patron and according to projections, nearly 500,000 patrons will attend events at the Center next season.  Both Lincoln Center and the Adrienne Arsht Center have proven that performing arts centers can serve as an anchor for neighborhood revitalization and that the arts community and its artists are a vital part of the every community’s economy.  This is true nationwide and here in Miami-Dade County where more than 23,000 people are employed by arts organizations. 

Continued public and private sector support is needed to help Miami continue its emergence as one of the world’s most dynamic arts destinations. The Miami-Dade County Mayor and Commissioners understand this first hand; they have been very supportive by making a substantial financial investment in the Adrienne Arsht Center and have, in turn, realized a healthy return on that investment in the form of job creation, urban revitalization, and most importantly, an extraordinary degree of community building.

Home-Grown Talent featured in Cirque Dreams
May 18, 2009, 6:34 pm
Filed under: Broadway Across America

Returning to their South Florida turf, direct from Broadway, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, soared into the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center last week, featuring four South Floridians. With Uranmandakh Amarsanaa, Vladimir Dovgan, and Buyankhishig Ganbaatar on the dressing room name placards you might think you had walked into the United Nations. Walking backstage, however, one could repeatedly hear dancers and acrobats delightfully proclaim how nice it was to be “home”. 

That’s because Neil Goldberg, the company’s creator and director, is a long-time South Florida resident. He recruits performers from around the world to train for his productions at Dream Studios in Pompano Beach. Performers from the Mongolian School of Contortion, the Acrobatic Training Center of Beijing; the Sports Acrobatic Association of Poland; the Moscow Circus and more come together under one roof to receive direction from a resident team of coaches, choreographers, gymnasts, aerialists, and writers. 

Started over 15 years ago in a small 1,500 square foot space in Hollywood, Florida, Cirque Productions Inc. has grown into a 20,000 square foot warehouse in Pompano housing rehearsal studios and administrative offices. Some of South Florida’s finest seamstresses and wardrobe designers toil away in this colorful space, sculpting and hand-painting masks and headdresses. And the local connection isn’t just back stage.

Among the Olympic-level gymnasts, Jared Burnett, the production’s electric violinist was born and raised in Florida. “It is so nice to see this area again, to drive my car, to be able to sit on the beach I love so much, and to just take a few minutes to relax and see family and friends, ” said Jared.  

South Floridian, Kevin Yungman, an aspiring 16-year-old actor, also performed with the cast of the Broadway show. A student at Cypress Bay High School, Kevin was selected from other hopefuls in South Florida who auditioned for a chance to perform a feature role in the production for the Arsht Center run.

Naomi Sampson was also excited to be home to celebrate Mother’s Day with her family in Davie. Having joined Cirque Dreams six years ago, she has become an expert on travelling, but last week she was able to hug her mom for the first time in six months! Hannah Sampson, Naomi’s sister, and Miami Herald contributor said, “I will be there, watching my sister fly in our own backyard.”

Cirque is the Latest in a Dream Season of Family Shows
May 18, 2009, 6:30 pm
Filed under: About the Center, Family Fun

The hit Broadway spectacular, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, which just ended its run at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, was the fourth offering of the current Broadway in Miami season, presented by RRA Broadway Across America and the Adrienne Arsht Center. It wowed audiences—especially the hundreds of children in the theater who were kept on the edge of their seats by the stunning athleticism of the performers, the explosion of colors and movement, the soaring aerialist, the acrobats and jugglers. And while Chicago, the final show opening May 26, is decidedly a more adult affair, the 08/09 Broadway lineup has been a hit parade of some of the greatest musicals ever created for family audiences: The Wizard of Oz, Annie, Cats—a dream of a season for families who love to experience and share the excitement of live theater and the magic of the performing arts. Nearly 59,000 people came to the theater to see these four shows, and there were lots and lots of kids at every performance!


Girl Scouts at Cirque

Girl Scouts at Cirque


These musicals, with their enchanting stories, timeless characters, and memorable scores, have been introducing children to live theater for generations—not just in this country, but around the world. And once again, they have worked their magic—here in Miami—at the Adrienne Arsht Center. For many of the kids who sat in the audience booing the Wicked Witch, trying out some cat moves, hoping against hope that Annie and Sandy would find a home, and dreaming of soaring through the air on a flying trapeze, this was their first-ever Broadway show! We are certain that for many of them it was an unforgettable experience that will turn them into lifelong theatergoers.

We know that for many of you, this is exactly how you got hooked on the performing arts. When you were a kid you were taken to a musical, or to a stage adaptation of your favorite story, or to see The Nutcracker, or to hear a concert. Instantly you thought, “Well this is the best thing ever!” And then you couldn’t get enough! It’s addictive—and it’s easy to see why.

The performing arts enrich our lives. They make us feel. They’re beautiful, exciting, scary, fun, challenging, thought-provoking, moving, and hugely entertaining. They teach us things about ourselves—and about others— that we can’t learn anywhere else—or at least not while having such a good time! They bring communities together. At a theater or concert hall, black box studio or outdoor stage, people who have never had a language in common suddenly do—through melody, through movement, through rhythm, even through stories so universal that it really doesn’t matter what language they’re spoken in. In Miami, perhaps the most diverse city in the country, where people from around the world come to live and play, what could be more precious? 

It’s a no-brainer that introducing children to the performing arts has to be one of the primary goals of this or any other great performing arts center. Turning them into life-long performing arts lovers—through live performances of family shows, classes, workshops, and a host of other interactive at-the-theater and in-the-classroom activities—is certainly at the top of the Adrienne Arsht Center agenda.

Next Stop: Adrienne Arsht Center Station
May 18, 2009, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Adrienne Arsht

Miami philanthropist and businesswoman Adrienne Arsht was all smiles Thursday, May 14 as she rode a Metromover car to the station newly-renamed after the Adrienne Arsht Center. Joined by Commissioner Audrey Edmondson, Chairman of the Adrienne Arsht Center Trust Ricky Arriola, and Senior Executive of Miami-Dade Transit Clinton Forbes, Ms. Arsht toured through the downtown Miami sites in route to the official unveiling and dedication ceremony of the station’s new name. “I want to take a look at the map,” Arsht said as she made her way across the shaking car and around her fellow passengers like a true downtown local but in graceful “Adrienne Arsht fashion.”

USE FOR NEWSLETTER MetroMoverRenamingPhotobyMitchellZachs-14-0754

After arriving to the Adrienne Arsht Center Station platform, which was previously the Omni Station, Ms. Arsht was met with warm welcomes from county officials, members of the Adrienne Arsht Center board and staff, local media, and the public. The group gathered for remarks by Mr. Arriola, Mr. Forbes, and Commissioner Edmondson regarding the station renaming and Ms. Arsht’s generous $30 million gift to the Center in 2008.


(L-R) Commissioner Edmondson, Adrienne Arsht, Ricky Arriola

(L-R) Commissioner Edmondson, Adrienne Arsht, Ricky Arriola

Operated by Miami-Dade Transit, Metromover is a complimentary, public train system that accommodates passengers commuting within the downtown Miami vicinity. As a part of the ongoing revitalization of downtown Miami’s urban core, the Adrienne Arsht Center is powered by a variety of theatrical, musical and educational programs occurring almost every day of the week, increasing the need for the Metromover. Located close to the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 15th Street, Adrienne Arsht Center Station is one of the Metromover system’s highest-traffic stops. Just one block from the Adrienne Arsht Center itself, the Metromover and Adrienne Arsht Center Station provide locals arguably the most convenient way to get to the theatre on time!


The lady of the hour delivered a gracious, yet witty, speech thanking the county and the public for the honor. The official unveiling of the Adrienne Arsht Center Station sign took place on the ground level immediately after the speeches, and the ceremony then transformed into a mid-day festival with live music, performers and refreshments.

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