Point of View

Beyond the Stage: Adrienne Arsht Center is one of the top 5 meeting venues in South Florida
June 30, 2009, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Awards and Recognition

More than 300 performances take place on the Adrienne Arsht Center stage each year –from Broadway musicals and groundbreaking theater to classical music and modern dance. But what most people don’t know is that the Center has hosted another 100 special events with nary a ballerina or musical instrument in sight.

The Center has hosted a medical education seminar and a new car showcase; a fashion show and a Super Bowl sponsor event; national leadership meetings and software application seminars, to name just a few of the many corporate meetings and business events that take place in the complex. With flexible seating plans in our theaters, high-tech presentation capabilities, multiple meeting venues and spaces with beautiful views of downtown Miami, it’s no wonder that the 500 members of the South Florida Chapter of Meeting Planners International recently named the Center one of the top 5 meeting venues.


Following are some of the high-profile activities that have made the Center a favorite among meeting planners:

U.S. Conference of Mayors. In May of 2008, the U.S. Conference of Mayors held their annual summer conference here in Miami. The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official – the mayor. Our own mayor, Manny Diaz, is the Conference President and national spokesperson. Mayor Diaz was intent on making Miami shine over those days and chose the Adrienne Arsht Center as the venue to achieve that goal. Guests were seated in the audience chamber of the Ziff Ballet Opera House for a special program which featured a video extolling the grandeur of Miami and a performance by the Goodwill Band. The beautiful Hibiscus curtain, one of the Center’s many art installations, was raised to reveal a banquet dinner for 1,200 – right on the stage!

Autodesk. Autodesk, the leader of 2D and 3D design, engineering and entertainment software hosts a showcase of their newest technology in the Peacock Rehearsal Studio and Carnival Studio Theater. Featuring their own state-of-the-art equipment and software, Autodesk wows customers and garnishes new ones with their yearly presentation at the Center.


Citi’s Latin America Financial Professionals Forum. For Citi, a leading global financial services company with 200 million customer accounts in 140 countries, the Center staff transformed the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall into a soccer stadium! Using the festival floor, a temporary floor that covers the orchestra level of the hall, and a highly creative design team, we created a 6,000 square foot event space that was certain to leave an impression with Latin American finance professionals who have seen it all. Capitalizing on the target group’s obsession with soccer, Citi and the Adrienne Arsht Center team incorporated moving lights, blaring music and flowing cocktails for a one-of-a-kind celebration.

Pow Wow. 4,000 travel industry professionals descended on Miami to celebrate the world’s biggest travel trade show and the Adrienne Arsht Center was chosen as the location for the phenomenal closing night event. Performances took place on all of our stages; the lobbies were transformed into a gourmet Candyland created by Barton G.; and Biscayne Boulevard, closed for the evening, and the outdoor Thomson Plaza became a dance floor where thousands of travel professionals enjoyed Miami’s warmth and live music.


Letter & Sciences. Letters & Sciences, a company that specializes in continuing medical education, has selected the Center again and again as the venue for its seminars. The learning portion of the meeting is all business and includes classroom seating for 300 guests, dual projection and additional audio-visual support. The meals and breaks, however, take place in beautiful lobbies flooded with natural light and sweeping architectural lines, and offering medical professionals a chance to network outside of the hospital and office environment.

The Center, which is owned by Miami-Dade County, also regularly hosts the County’s most important addresses, including the State of the County Address, State of the Arts Address, and the State of the Port Address.

Green Room Society Goes Green
June 30, 2009, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Green Room Society, Out in the Community

The Green Room Society (GRS) of the Adrienne Arsht Center is living up to its name – literally. This past Saturday (June 27, 2009), Green Room Society members and their guests attended “Saving the Planet with Style,” an event that combined fashion, art, music and cuisine with one purpose in mind: to build a better world. The “green” event took place at the en vogue Stay at Lincoln Hotel on Miami Beach, the brainchild of GRS committee member Ernesto Arguello, and was attended by more than 100 GRS members. Organized by the Madave Fashion Group and hosted by GRS, the soiree benefited the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with the intention of using positive thought and human compassion together with art to make the world a better place.

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The three-day engagement began on Thursday with a focus on fashion. Trendy and environmentally friendly swimsuits, clothing, jewelry and handbag lines were all presented at the creative fair with enthusiastic response. The highlight, Saturday night’s exclusive Green Room Society event, featured a scene alive with the fascinating live silk-screen work of Rocky Grimes served up alongside 42 Below Vodka cocktails, Vitamin Water Tranquilo beverages and Grolsch Beer. Newly minted Green Room Society members walked away with their very own personalized “Go Green with the Green Room Society” recyclable tote bags, all printed live by Grimes. It was truly a magical event and Madave has confirmed that “Saving the Planet with Style” will be back again next year! Until then, the members of GRS are glad to be helping to save the planet – with impeccable style, of course.

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Miami’s Fresh Monkey decked the Adrienne Arsht Center loading dock
June 30, 2009, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Fuerza Bruta

Daniel Aaron Fila aka Krave, aka Fresh Monkey, 28, is legit. By that, we mean he has a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design and a master’s degree in Street Art from the School of Hard Knocks. The Miami native has worked in the area for more than 10 years as a graffiti street artist with a particular penchant for murals. Fila is one of 4 Miami-based artists selected to showcase their work at the Adrienne Arsht Center during the run of Fuerza Bruta, now on stage through August 2.

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His latest work can now be seen on the east wall of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s loading dock, which has been converted into an industrial-inspired main entrance to the Center’s summer hit Fuerza Bruta. The “Fresh Monkey,” the character at the center of the Adrienne Arsht Center painting and at the core of many of Fila’s works, has been referred to as the artist’s alter-ego, and first came about while he was doing a school project years ago. The “fresh” refers to the little creature’s proclivity for trouble. Although Fila says he sometimes feels caged in when it comes to expressing himself, his naughty little alter-ego can be seen all over the city in some of the most colorful graffiti art Miami has seen.

In 2003, Fila gained notoriety for his provocative 2003 “Erin” mural, a 13-foot posterior-view nude that graced the east wall of Oppenheim Architecture and Design in the heart of the Design District. The mural was mysteriously, and ironically enough, painted over illegally, but the building is now adorned with a new work entitled “Adam and Eve,” featuring Paleolithic-style fertility figures with large hips, curvy torsos, and small heads. Fila’s work has been featured at Art Basel, and he has also worked on projects for such notable brands as MTV, the Ritz-Carlton, and Greyhound bus lines. Recently, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau featured his artwork on a city wall as part of a national ad campaign celebrating Miami’s culture.

Copy of Fuerza Bruta Press Meet - June10,09 Photos by Mitchell Zachs (13)

To learn about the other artists featured at the Adrienne Arsht Center during Fuerza Bruta, visit https://arshtpov.wordpress.com/ and look out for future editions of P.O.V.

Volunteer Letter to Editor
June 30, 2009, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Letter to Editor

Dear P.O.V.:

I have been in Miami for a little over a year now and have been mostly focused on my professional development. About 3 months ago, I ran across the Adrienne Arsht Center’s website and decided to become involved as a volunteer. The highlight of my service so far was participating in the auditions for AileyCamp in Miami, which you featured in the last edition of P.O.V.

On June 13, I had the incredible honor of being a part of the interviewing committee to select participants for the first AileyCamp in Miami. Before moving to Miami, I taught Latin dance to several talented children’s groups, but the children that came to this camp were incredible. Some children I interviewed have followed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre since before they could dance. It was almost impossible to choose from so many wonderful children.

Before joining the interviewers’ panel, I thought that the camp would simply be an experience where children could sharpen their dancing abilities, but, that day, I learned what the camp is really about. The camp is really all about personal growth, using dance as a medium to help students prepare for life. Not only do these already talented children get an opportunity to sharpen their dance skills, they also will get an edge on the real world that I believe not enough children receive.

Through opportunities like this, volunteering at the center has given me more than I could possibly ever give to the center. Meeting a myriad of personalities on every visit, growing on a personal level, being exposed to a worldly atmosphere of performing arts, and meeting children whom I am certain will be successful in their careers (even if that career isn’t in performing arts) is just a short part of my experience.

I am eager to continue being a part of such an inspiring organization.


Luis Ugalde

New Board Chairman and President Elected at Florida Grand Opera
June 30, 2009, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Florida Grand Opera

Now entering its 69th season, Florida Grand Opera has announced a new slate of leaders for its Board of Directors. Victor H. Mendelson was elected president of the Board, succeeding Jane A. Robinson, who was elected chairman of the Board of Directors following her five years as president.

Victor H. Mendelson represents his family’s fourth generation of Florida Grand Opera supporters, which began with his great-grandmother Lillian Brown, and continued with his grandmother Muriel Hattenbach, and his mother Arlene H. Mendelson. Mr. Mendelson is the president and chief executive officer of HEICO Electronic Technologies Corp., a subsidiary of NYSE-traded HEICO Corporation. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of Columbia College in New York City, a trustee of St. Thomas University, and held the FGO Board of Directors office of treasurer from 2007 until May of 2009.

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Robert M. Heuer, FGO’s general director and CEO, stated, “All of us at the Opera are extremely grateful for Victor’s leadership at this crucial time for Florida Grand Opera and the entire arts community. He brings a wealth of business experience, common sense, and analytical skills that will be invaluable in helping the Opera go forward during the coming seasons. We are also grateful to Jane A. Robinson for her years of commitment to the company during a critical period that included our move from Miami-Dade County Auditorium to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.”

Florence Hecht and Leonard Robbins were elected directors emeriti in recognition of their many years of service and support of the Opera, and James M. Herron was re-elected as the Opera’s representative to the Arsht Center Trust Board. Newly elected to the Florida Grand Opera Board of Directors are Leatrice Taylor Damus, Morton J. Robinson, M.D., Gale Goldstein Tucker, Esq., and Ana Moran Varela.

Adios, Celia.
June 30, 2009, 3:20 pm
Filed under: At the Center

Celia has left the building. A powerhouse musical bringing to life the incredible history and fabulous songs of one of Cuba’s most iconic performers, Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz mesmerized Miami audiences two summers in a row with its hot music, dazzling costumes, and sizzling performances. But the legend never dies, and neither does the hit show that she inspired. Following the three-week encore production at the Knight Concert Hall, co-presented by the Adrienne Arsht Center and CMN productions the hit musical hit the road once more, continuing its international tour before it eventually heads back to New York City, where it all began nearly two years ago.

Copy of Celia photo by Manny Hernandez

First up, later this summer, is a two-week run in Puerto Rico. Then it’s off to South America with engagements scheduled in Argentina and Colombia. The show will also play Las Vegas before reopening in New York in April 2010, this time at the Daryl Roth Theater on Union Square, where, coincidentally, the New York production of Fuerza Bruta has been wowing audiences for two record-breaking years.
Que tengas un buen viaje, Celia! We’ll miss you!

Another Jam-packed Summer at the Adrienne Arsht Center
June 23, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: At the Center

“Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer,” crooned Nat King Cole in one of his biggest hits of the early ‘60s. That was then. This is now. And he was most definitely not singing about Summer 2009 at the Adrienne Arsht Center. These past few weeks have seen an unprecedented amount of activity at the Center—perhaps the most intensely busy period since the Inaugural Weekend and Grand Opening of the Center in the fall of 2006.

The summer season kicked off with the opening of five productions, nearly simultaneously. They included Fuerza Bruta, the most technically complex staging the Center has ever undertaken. Shows have been running in the Knight Concert Hall, Ziff Ballet Opera House, and Carnival Studio Theater at least 6 days a week—with 18 performances taking place on weekends alone! There have been rehearsals, load-ins, cast parties, the inauguration of Fuerza Bruta’s G-Lounge by Barton G., meetings, press previews, conferences, red carpet entrances, performers to accommodate, patrons to attend to, and kids to interview for the chance to participate in AileyCamp Miami.


Saturday, June 13, exemplifies what life at the Center has been like these days. By early morning, kids ages 11 – 14 had started arriving for their AileyCamp interviews, in hopes that they would be chosen to be a part of this extraordinary education and outreach initiative, a joint partnership of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Adrienne Arsht Center. By end of day, after morning and afternoon sessions in the Knight Concert Hall and various other locations, a panel made up of Alvin Ailey staff, teachers, Miami-Dade County School administrators, and Adrienne Arsht Center staff, volunteers and a board member had seen and talked to 114 kids, first as part of a group dance “audition” and then in one-on-one interviews. Eventually 85 youngsters were chosen for the four-week summer day camp that will stretch their bodies, minds, and souls in preparation for the wide-ranging challenges of life as a high school student.

Curtain time for the first of the day’s three Summer Shorts performances was 1 p.m., and so by early afternoon, more kids were arriving at the Center, headed to the Carnival Studio Theater for the series of delightful short family-friendly plays that made up this year’s Shorts 4 Kids. The more mature-skewing Signature Shorts followed that evening at 7 p.m., and then at 10 p.m., undershorts, the late-night series of naughty and bawdy plays designed exclusively for adults, brought the anything-but-short Shorts day to a close.

In the meantime, 60 people attended the Dramatist Guild Town Hall meeting in the B. and Donald Carlin Banquet Hall, sponsored by the Theatre League of South Florida, an alliance of theatrical organizations and professionals dedicated to nurturing, promoting, and advocating for the growth and prestige of the South Florida theater industry.

Anissa Gathers as Celia photo by Manny Hernandez-6

Over at the Knight Concert Hall, the international hit musical, Celia, The Life and Music of Celia Cruz, gave life once more to the divine Cuban queen of salsa, and Anissa Gathers, whose performance as Celia has been the toast of three continents, had them singing and dancing in the aisles at both the 5 and 9 p.m. shows.

And by early evening, the Fuerza Bruta Saturday night marathon had begun. Two shows in one evening of this dazzling, outrageously disorienting production would be enough to keep front-of-house staff, volunteers, and stage crew working nonstop, what with patrons arriving and entering through the back of the theater rather than the front; standing, moving (and quite a few dancing) on stage rather than sitting in the auditorium; and performers running, flying and swimming mid-air rather than rooted to the stage floor.


Then there is the G-Lounge by Barton G., a party space complete with DJs, bars, food, and art, carved out of what is normally the backstage of the Ziff Ballet Opera House. Designed as an introduction to and extension of the Fuerza Bruta experience, it actually has taken on a life of its own and has quickly become a must-go-to club in a city that isn’t exactly lacking in hot spots.

So that was Saturday, June 13, at the Adrienne Arsht Center: “Lazy?”—hardly. “Hazy?”—perhaps, after a G-Lounge cocktail or two. “Crazy?”—absolutely!

Resident Artist Jencarlos Canela starring in Telemundo’s hottest new telenovela
June 23, 2009, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Resident Artists

Adrienne Arsht Center’s resident artist Jencarlos Canela – a Miami-born actor, singer, musician and model – has taken off since starring in the Center’s production of Miami Libre last summer. Canela is now the leading man in the hottest Latin soap opera on Telemundo – “Más Sabe el Diablo.” Canela’s show is the newest drama on the NBC sister network and is already racing up the charts. He plays “Angel,” a young man who shrouds himself in a world of intrigue and robbery as a way of helping his mother afford the expensive medications she needs to fight a serious illness. Behind his tough exterior, Canela’s character is really a decent, smart, talented and kind-hearted guy who learns that there are other ways of using his strengths in this cliffhanger of a drama.

To become a man whose life is filled with pain, passion, trickery, vengeance and love is no easy feat. In preparing for this deep and complex role, Canela engulfed himself in the circumstance of his characters. He walked the streets of Miami, engaging with strangers about personal experiences that could help him relate. Not having grown up in the “glamorous life,” Canela also feels a connection to the character through his own life experiences.


Canela made his Arsht Center debut in the hit show Miami Libre in summer 2008, where he starred in the role of “Pepito.” In addition to his work on “Más Sabe el Diablo,” the 21-year old star has won various awards for his achievements so far, including the Premio sin Limite from the City of New York in the “Best Young Actor” category and “Best Performer in a Soap Opera” for his work on the Telemundo telenovela “Pecados Ajenos.” He has also been awarded the Premio Estrella and the prestigious Premio Fama, both in the “Best Young Actor” category. Besides being the lead of the hottest Spanish language soap opera on TV today, Canela recently finished filming his first feature film, “Hunted by Night,” which will be released later this year and is eager for his debut album to hit stores this July.

To check out “Más Sabe el Diablo,” tune into Telemundo Monday through Friday at 8 p.m. EST.

Hopefuls come out for AileyCamp Interviews
June 23, 2009, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Education, Out in the Community

On Saturday, June 13, 114 middle school students from around Miami-Dade County came to the Adrienne Arsht Center to interview for one of the 85 spaces available for the first AileyCamp Miami, a summer day camp founded by the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation which will be offered for the first time in Miami this summer. The four-week camp, which is completely free to participants and does not require any formal dance training, features ballet, jazz, modern and West African dance classes as well as classes in creative communication and personal development. Designed to help students make a successful transition to high school, the programming focuses on building self-esteem, encouraging creative thinking, and supporting exploration of the arts through cooperative dance activities.

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Young hopefuls arrived at 9:30 a.m. to register in the lobby of the Center’s John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. At 10 a.m. sharp, the first group of students was lead to the Peacock Education Center to get things started with a movement activity lead by Natasha DeVaughn-Rigby, the camp’s new director. From there, each student was escorted to a one-on-one interview conducted by a panel of specially selected members of the Adrienne Arsht Center community who have experience working with children, including representatives from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, an Adrienne Arsht Center Board member, and some of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s most dedicated volunteers. Ms. DeVaughn-Rigby and Nasha Thomas-Schmitt (AileyCamp’s National Director) represented the AileyCamp’s national office and rounded out the group of interviewers. The 85 students who were selected to participate have been notified by mail.

AileyCamp Miami will run from July 13 to August 7 with a final performance in the Knight Concert Hall on Saturday, August 8. The stage will come to life with an original production presented by the 85 students who will have called the Adrienne Arsht Center’s AileyCamp their summer home.

Center’s Information Technology Team Awarded Computerworld Magazine Laureate Award
June 23, 2009, 4:28 pm
Filed under: Awards and Recognition

Computerworld, the world’s leading source of information technology news and information, has honored the Adrienne Arsht Center’s IT team with one of its most prestigious awards – the 2009 Laureate award from IDG’s Computerworld Honors Program. Recognizing those who use information technology to benefit society, the Computerworld Honors Program unites Chairmen and CEOs of the world’s foremost information technology companies to recognize the most outstanding user achievements in technology each year.

The Adrienne Arsht Center was selected for building a “future-proof” wireless networking infrastructure. This distinction marks the first time in the magazine’s 21-year history that this award been bestowed upon a performing arts organization. In addition to the selection as a Laureate, the Center was a finalist for the 21st Century Achievement Award in the Media, Arts and Entertainment category.

The technology achievements honored by this program are preserved and protected in national archives, and in over 350 universities, museums, and research institutions throughout the world.

Each year, members of the Chairmen’s Committee, a group of 100 Chairman/CEOs of global technology companies, nominate individuals and organizations around the world whose visionary applications of information technology promote positive social and economic progress.

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“The Computerworld Honors Program seeks to recognize organizations, from a variety of sectors, for their ongoing efforts to utilize technology in order to benefit society,” said Ron Milton, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Computerworld Information Technology Awards Foundation and Executive Vice President of Computerworld. “We are proud to provide a platform to publicly acknowledge these contributions.” The Laureate Medal Ceremony and Gala Awards black tie evening took place at the historic Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. where the Center’s Senior Director of Information Technology, James J. Thompson, accepted the award.

“This honor affirms our long-standing commitment to the harmonious relationship of technology and the performing arts,” said Thompson. Arriving in Miami from the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville more than four years ago at a critical stage in our Center’s construction, Thompson was given a firm budget, a blank slate and told “go.” His experience in Nashville proved vital in reaching design goals that keep the facility cutting edge in an ever-changing environment. Thompson further said, “Our current goal is to anticipate and change with the times. Technology is a relatively new tool in our industry for both artist and audience. Our team strives to keep pushing the envelope.”

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