Point of View


South Florida Business Journal Names Adrienne Arsht Center “Business of the Year”
May 5, 2009, 1:43 am
Filed under: Awards and Recognition

South Florida Business Journal recognized five companies, in the tri-county area for leading with confidence and demonstrating a commitment to their business goals, employees and the local community. In many ways – where programming decisions are made, budgets are formulated, sponsors are recruited, new employees are hired, and marketing materials are created – the Center functions much like any other outstanding business nominated for this recognition. However, in the case of the Adrienne Arsht Center, community support – not profits or share prices – is fueling success. 

There are many characteristics that made the Center worthy of the prestigious title of “Business of the Year.”  The following illuminate the Center’s sense of collective community impact, sound fiscal management practices, commitment to serving the area’s diverse population, among others, none of which would have been possible without the strong support of the community:

Making a collective community impact 

As Chief Financial Officer John Burnett explains, “There is a real sense that we’re impacting the South Florida community. Our collective investment in the Center’s mission translates into a synergy that I’ve never experienced working with another company or organization.”

Employees commit their time to various community service projects throughout South Florida, including the Community Partnership for the Homeless, Women of Tomorrow, Best Buddies, CHARLEE Homes for Children, the Humane Society, and a number of smaller arts organizations.

The Center also offers competitive compensation packages and opportunities to participate in professional development programs. As Trish Brennan, vice president of human resources, puts it, “The culture here is one of family. We support one another and really like each other. As we have grown bigger, the core values remain the same. We work hard, but believe in what we are doing.”

Financial success through community support

Thanks in large part to the support it enjoys among members of the South Florida community, such as an outstanding $30 million gift from philanthropist and businesswoman Adrienne Arsht, the Center is financially stable after balancing its budget in 2008 and paying off its last remaining bank loan seven years early. Now on sound financial footing, the Center is pursuing new corporate sponsorships and private gifts while simultaneously growing its membership base by recruiting small-gift donors and contributors under the age of 45 through the Green Room Society young patrons group. The Center forecasts another balanced budget for 2009.

1 million visitors 

On April 16, 2009, Miami resident Toya LaRenn became the one-millionth patron to walk through the Center’s doors. While many of the more than one-million memories that have been made at the Center occurred because of what happened on stage, the customer experience begins before patrons take their seats, courtesy of the Center’s staff and dedicated corps of 400 volunteers.

This ensemble cast delivers a patron-focused experience day-in and day-out. They welcome theatergoers at the box office, guide guests to their seats, and lead school children and families on “behind-the-scenes” tours. They are the backbone of the organization and, in many cases, the reason many patrons choose to return to the Center again and again.

Programming a reflection of the community 

The Adrienne Arsht Center has earned critical acclaim for the quality and scope of its programs, which closely reflect South Florida’s rich diversity; however, it is the audience response to these programs that is our true measure of success. In addition to Broadway favorites, classical music and dance, and pop music performances, lesser-known shows Celia: The Life and Music of Celia CruzMiami Libre, and Liberty City have drawn tens of thousands to the Center, many for the first time. Recently, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater captured the hearts and minds of nearly 11,000. Earlier this year, 8,000 attended Flamenco Festival Miami, resulting in four sold-out performances.

At the same time, the Center’s free programs and events have been widely supported, through grants from organizations such as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as well as by thousands in the community who turn out with their families and friends for each of these events. One of the most notable events this year was the Presidential Inauguration Celebration, which saw thousands pack the Center to watch a live video simulcast of the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. The Free Gospel Sundays series drew as many as 1,800 people to free gospel concerts throughout the winter and spring. Meanwhile, Family Fest, which brings performances, classes, and games to the Center’s Parker and Vann Thomson Plaza for the Arts, has become a regular outing for many families.

The enthusiasm generated by these programs and events has played an important role in the Center’s success reaching out to its community; this support was the key factor in the Center’s “business of the year” award.

 

Adrienne Arsht Center Executives (left to right) – Vice-President of Government and Board Relations Valerie Riles, Executive Vice-President Scott Shiller, President and CEO M. John Richard, General Counsel Louis Tertocha, Board Chairman of the Performing Arts Center Trust Ricky Arriola, Human Resources Vice-President Trish Brennan, and Vice-President of Finance and CFO John Burnett.

Adrienne Arsht Center Executives (left to right) – Vice-President of Government and Board Relations Valerie Riles, Executive Vice-President Scott Shiller, President and CEO M. John Richard, General Counsel Louis Tertocha, Board Chairman of the Performing Arts Center Trust Ricky Arriola, Human Resources Vice-President Trish Brennan, and Vice-President of Finance and CFO John Burnett.

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