Point of View

December 23, 2009, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Masterworks Series

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced the winners of the 2009 Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide contest to find the best ideas for the arts in South Florida. The Adrienne Arsht Center was fortunate to find itself among the 20 winners — a mix of individual artists, small nonprofits and some of South Florida’s largest and most venerable arts institutions, who collectively received $3.7 million in matching grants. The Adrienne Arsht Center received a $200,000 grant for Free Gospel Sundays, the community-supported Gospel series featuring a number of South Florida church choirs paired with national Gospel headliners.

Free Gospel Sundays


Seeing an opportunity to unite the area’s diverse community through the arts, Knight Foundation has committed more than $40 million through the Knight Arts Challenge to help strengthen this vital sector.

Knight Arts Challenge 2009 Winners


“That’s high-impact giving. Knight Foundation is making a difference for nonprofits and the people they are designed to help,” said M. John Richard, president and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center. “With Knight Foundation as our partner in the arts, the Adrienne Arsht Center can fulfill its commitment to profoundly impact the cultural life in our community.”

Free Gospel Sundays

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation had the foresight to recognize the impact Free Gospel Sundays would have on our community and has supported Free Gospel Sundays since 2008. With this second Knight Arts Challenge grant for the Gospel series, the Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to continue supporting Gospel music at the Adrienne Arsht Center into the 2010-2011 season.

Why Gospel? Free Gospel Sundays reflects the Adrienne Arsht Center’s continued commitment to present programs focused on highlighting South Florida’s rich cultural diversity.

“Nothing defines us more — or better — than our diversity. But the challenge of that diversity is to build a sense of community that is inclusive based on experiences and values we share. The arts in South Florida have the power to fuse culture, raise standards and enrich our collective life,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation.

Soul of the Community

Knight Foundation does much more than bring the South Florida community together through the arts. The Foundation has become an integral part of the soul of the community. The Foundation funded a Gallup survey designed to explore the connection between economic growth and residents’ emotional attachment to their community. The Soul of the Community survey suggests a significant correlation between the two and found that Miami’s social offerings, its physical beauty and its openness to new and different people are the most determinative factors as to why Miamians love Miami.

Arts and culture lovers in Miami would not be able to take pleasure in many of what this community has to offer if not for Knight Foundation. The Foundation builds a sense of community by supporting projects that allow the diverse communities to come together through the arts.

Masterworks Season of classical music and dance 

Knight Foundation also understands which types of projects are vital to our community. After Concert Association of Florida ceased its operations earlier this year, the Adrienne Arsht Center made a commitment to present the most prestigious names in classical music and dance in its halls for generations of South Floridians to enjoy.

With the support of Knight Foundation in the form of a challenge grant, the Adrienne Arsht Center was able to fulfill its promise of programming a full season of classical music and dance performers of the highest caliber and raise the crucial funds to present the John S. and James L. Knight MASTERWORKS SEASON.

A heartfelt performance by Israel’s Batsheva Ensemble at the Adrienne Arsht Center


“When a project is supported by Knight Foundation, its success is inevitable,” said Giselle Ferro, Director of Grant Development and Foundation Relations at the Adrienne Arsht Center. “Challenge grants are a powerful motivation to donate. It gives organizations like ours the ability to leverage other private, as well as public, support.”

Seminar Series coming in Spring 2010

With arts organizations facing increasingly scarce resources, the Adrienne Arsht Center is launching a seminar series in the spring to help them achieve their creative potential in tough budget times. This seminar series will be co-sponsored by Knight Foundation.

The seminar series will offer large and small non-profits tools for sustainability and expertise on traditional and Web 2.0 marketing, fundraising and board development, among other areas. All topics have been selected because they are critical to a nonprofit organization’s sustainability. The seminar series also will give these groups access to experts and insight typically out of reach.

The Knight Arts Challenge will accept applications next year for the third round of its community grants contest. Because it is a matching grant program, winners must find funding to complement Knight Foundation’s investment. To find out more, or sign up for e-mail updates, visit www.knightarts.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more information, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

Adrienne Arsht Center – Your Home for Holiday Entertainment
December 23, 2009, 8:05 pm
Filed under: At the Center

Increasingly each season, the Adrienne Arsht Center is becoming a gathering place for more and more families during the holidays. The performing arts give us a unique opportunity to share time with friends and loved ones. Through them we experience beauty, joy, wonder and delight together—creating warm, distinct memories that will be treasured a lifetime.

Miami City Ballet's the Nutcracker


To mark this special season the Center planned a December stuffed with excitement and enchantment for the entire family. The voices of Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Free Gospel Sunday choirs, Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell and Seraphic Fire singing Handel’s Messiah  made our spirits soar. Dave Grusin and some very famous friends—singers Patti Austin and Jon Secada, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, vibraphone virtuoso Gary Burton among them— brought to life the brilliance that has made West Side Story a favorite of generations.

The incomparable Billy Crystal regaled us with funny and nostalgic tales of his own close-knit family in his Tony Award-winning play, 700 Sundays. For many families, an outing to see The Nutcracker has been a treasured holiday tradition for decades, and happily we have one of the best productions in the country at the Center with Miami City Ballet’s signature staging of the George Balanchine classic. Finally, we’re about to introduce a fun new holiday treat when the pre-Broadway production of The 101 Dalmatians Musical—already being called the best family musical since Annie—scampers onto the Ziff Ballet Opera House stage and into the new year. And what better way to celebrate the arrival of 2010 with a Salute to Vienna, the music and dance performance of waltzes and operetta that has become a New Year’s tradition all over the world.

Billy Gives Back to Local Service Men and Women
December 23, 2009, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Broadway Across America

One never knows what to expect when meeting a legend in the flesh.  The Adrienne Arsht Center staff expected Billy Crystal to be an amazing performer and a consummate professional; what they didn’t expect was for this legend to also be such a nice guy whose graciousness and generosity has made him one of the most talked about performers ever to grace the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House stage.

More than 10,000 people came to see 700 Sundays, making it one of the highest-selling shows of the 09/10 Adrienne Arsht Center season.  Celebrities were spotted in the audience at several of the performances, including KC of KC & the Sunshine Band, former Yankees great Bucky Dent and Miami music icon Gloria Estefan.  With celebrity-studded sold-out performances, Billy Crystal asked the Center to do something that surprised all.  He requested that the Center set aside hundreds of tickets for men and women who serve Miami-Dade County through law enforcement and the fire department, to come see him perform – for free.  

Gloria Estefan and Billy Crystal

Gloria Estefan and Billy Crystal


Working with the Arsht Center’s Director of Security and retired Chief of Police David Ward, the Center was able to reach out to first responders throughout Miami-Dade County.  Within a matter of days, hundreds of law enforcement and fire personnel had accepted Billy’s invitation to the show. Many of them shared the special moment with their own fathers, bringing them to the performance.  “As always, we appreciate the consideration and recognition of artists like Billy Crystal who extend this kind of generosity to our men and women on the front lines of Miami justice,” praised Ward.

David Ward and Billy Crystal

Hundreds of Students See Free Holiday Performance
December 23, 2009, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Education

Hundreds of students from Miami-Dade County Public Schools poured into the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall for a special holiday performance by Sweet Honey in the Rock.  The internationally known acapella singing group brought the hall to life with multi-cultural songs chosen especially for this time of year.  The program included opportunities for the students to sing along and participate in the performance.  The audience came to life with call and response songs led by the skillful artists from the stage. 

This performance also featured sign language interpretation from one of the “voices” from the stage, which provided the opportunity for integrated classrooms to enjoy this offering.  Usually, when sign language interpretation is provided for a performance, the interpreter is positioned on the side, slightly separated from the rest of the performers.  In this show, there wasn’t an interpreter, but instead a signing performer.   This approach to performance created a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere for those students who use sign interpretation to access information.

The audience, a combination of elementary, middle and high school students, was enthusiastic and appreciative of the performance and gave Sweet Honey in the Rock a roaring applause.  Comments from teachers and chaperones confirmed what anyone in the hall could have told you – the students really enjoyed this multi-cultural way of marking the holiday season.

Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra Makes Magic
December 23, 2009, 7:36 pm
Filed under: Masterworks Series

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) performance on December 16th marked the first presentation of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Classical Music Series of the Center’s John S. and James L. Knight Masterworks Season. This concert also represented the Adrienne Arsht Center’s fulfillment of its promise to the community to present classical music after the Concert Association of Florida, the biggest presenter of classical music and dance in South Florida, ceased its operations in February 2009.

For this performance, Maestro Pinchas Zukerman led the illustrious ensemble, “an orchestra of soloists,” in a program which included Ms. Amanda Forsyth playing two beautiful and seldom heard pieces by Bruch and another piece which featured Maestro Zukerman in an unusual double role: Zukerman conducted the ensemble while playing Haydn’s violin concerto at the same time—a truly magnificent moment to both see and hear!

The offerings in the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Classical Music Series are made possible through the generosity of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Dr. Sanford and Dolores Ziff and the Classical Encore Circle, a select group of patrons whose mission is to Restore, Stabilize, Vitalize, and Perpetuate (R.S.V.P.) classical performances at the Adrienne Arsht Center through their support and fundraising efforts. The group’s commitment and continued support will leave a legacy of music and dance to be enjoyed for generations to come.

(L-R) Alberto Ibarguen, Pinchas Zukerman, Amanda Forsyth, Dr. Sanford Ziff and M. John Richard

The Adrienne Arsht Center also recognizes the special generosity of Mrs. Sue Miller on behalf of the Miller Family Foundation for her support of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance and Diane Star Heller for sponsoring the Itzhak Perlman performance in loving memory of her husband Daniel Neil Heller and his love for classical music.

The 2009/2010 Ziff Classical Music Series continues with three more world-class programs, including Itzhak Perlman, Detroit Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin, and piano superstar Lang Lang. For more information about the series, please visit www.arshtcenter.org or call 305.949.6722.

Kennedy Center C.E.O. Visits Miami
December 23, 2009, 7:30 pm
Filed under: At the Center, Education

On December 10th, one hundred and fifty nonprofit professionals, arts educators and community leaders gathered in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Ziff Ballet Opera House to listen to Michael Kaiser, the president of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, talk about the challenges facing non-profit performing arts organizations today.  Mr. Kaiser is currently on a cross-country tour presenting “Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative,” an arts management symposium that addresses fundraising, budgeting, marketing and building more effective boards of trustees in difficult economic times.  “Each locality is dealing with its own unique and specific challenges, and there is no better way to understand each region than through in-person visits,” says Kaiser. “Communicating in person allows us to be more effective in advising organizations in need.”

Michael Kaiser; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

The morning began with a meet-and-greet breakfast in the Peacock Foundation Studio that provided a relaxed networking opportunity for the artists, administrators, educators and community members in attendance.  The crowd then transitioned to the Carnival Studio Theater for the interview and Q&A session with Mr. Kaiser.  Dennis Scholl, Miami Program Director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation was the interviewer for the presentation, and skillfully guided the program with his own questions as well as questions submitted to the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE) blog for this discussion. 

Drawing on years of experiences and numerous successes with turning around arts organizations, Mr. Kaiser stressed the need for continued commitment to the artistic product and smart short-term planning that keeps in mind what is needed for long-term success.  The Q&A session gave audience members a chance to get perspective on topics that directly affect the South Florida community and included inquiries about supply and demand for arts in this community and ways to engage and retain board members.

The “Arts in Crisis” event was organized in conjunction with the FAAE, a state wide organization that unites educators, artists, community leaders, concerned citizens, arts education organizations, arts institutions and corporate partners to ensure Florida’s students a complete education that includes the arts.  “This is a much-needed initiative—especially now,” says Susan Burke, executive director of FAAE. 

(L-R) John Richard, Dennis Scholl and Michael Kaiser; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

(L-R) John Richard, Dennis Scholl, Michael Kaiser


The Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative is funded by Adrienne Arsht and Helen Lee Henderson and will take Mr. Kaiser to all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. 

For more information on the initiative, visit www.artsincrisis.org.

My Canine POV – Ambassador Lexie
December 23, 2009, 7:22 pm
Filed under: My POV

Dear P.O.V. Reader,

This past year has been a whirlwind!  Circumstances led me to Miami-Dade Animal Services where I was rescued and adopted by my new mommy eleven months ago. We’ve spent everyday together since, going on long walks, learning a bunch of tricks and cuddling.  

On November 7th, my life changed once again when I entered an on-stage competition with 17 other dogs and won the 101 Dalmatians Doggie Ambassador Auditions at the Adrienne Arsht Center!  In the weeks following the auditions, my fellow Ambassadors and I have made appearances at stores, festivals and events around Miami in support of the 101 Dalmatians show, meeting lots of people and performing lots of tricks.

One of my first appearances as Doggie Ambassador was at the very place where it all began for mommy and me – the Miami-Dade Animal Services Adopt-a-Pet event.  I performed my new tricks in front of hundreds of adoring fans, and took photos with mommy and Santa Claus.  At the end of the day we gave away show tickets to a family who saved the life of Lance, a small black Lab.  Lance was scheduled to be put down the very next day, but his family adopted him just in time.  Mommy hugged me extra tightly as Lance and his new family walked off to start their new life together.   

My fellow Ambassadors and I have many more events to attend before the opening night of 101 Dalmatians, including the official Doggie Ambassador Wrap Party at Dog Bar on South Beach. 

I want to give a special “bark-out” to my fellow Miami Doggie Ambassadors – Tango, Chopper, Wilson, Emily, Victoria, Benji and Muffin (the twins), Oreo, Shadow, Nemo, Matilda, Apollo, Bandit, Popsicle, Rusty, Lola, Lovely Love and Ignacio.   And a very special “bark-out” to my mommy, Anjane Girwarr; without your love and support it wouldn’t have been possible for me to become Miami’s #1 Doggie Ambassador. 



The Sanford and Dolores Ziff Classical Music and Dance Series
December 13, 2009, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Masterworks Series

The December 5th performance of the Batsheva Dance Ensemble marks the opening of the John S. and James L. Knight Masterworks Season, which represents the Center’s first full offering of classical music and dance programming: the four-performance Sanford and Dolores Ziff Classical Music Series and the three-part Sanford and Dolores Ziff Dance Series.

Sanford and Dolores Ziff are generously supporting Masterworks with a $500,000 pledge, sponsoring the series over the next five years. With this pledge, they join the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Classical Encore Circle, a dedicated group of patrons who are committed to assuring that classical music and dance are part of the Miami community now and for years to come. When asked about their generous contribution, Dr. Ziff stated, “It is a great pleasure to watch audiences enjoy the world’s most renowned classical music artists in one of the most spectacular concert halls in the United States. I am proud to support the Adrienne Arsht Center as it enters a new era of presenting classical music and am pleased to know that our community will be able to continue enjoying this transformational art form”.

Frequent visitors to the Adrienne Arsht Center may recognize Dr. Ziff and his wife Dolores as fixtures in our halls.  Dr. Ziff in his signature white suit and Dolores dressed in the latest fashion finery; they are always present with a smile and a kind word for everyone they meet.

Although their $10 million gift to name the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House was their largest single gift to a Miami-Dade cultural organization, Dr. and Mrs. Ziff are long-time supporters of the performing arts and culture in South Florida. The visual arts have also benefitted from the Ziffs’ involvement: the Miami Art Museum, received the donation of a Jean Dubuffet painting; the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami named a wing in their honor; the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami; the Bass Museum of Art; the Viscaya Foundation; and the Art Museum at Florida International University.

Dr. Ziff served the Miami community for more than 50 years as an optometrist and Founder, Chairman and CEO of Sunglass Hut International.  He was born in Akron, Ohio and graduated from the Illinois School of Optometry in Chicago and moved to Miami in the mid-1940s, where he established his practice.  He opened offices in Dadeland Mall and made a reputation for himself as a contact lens specialist, conducting clinical research and lecturing all over the world.  In 1971, he created Sunglass Hut, which became a successful international business enterprise.


Photo from the Adrienne Arsht Center Archives

Sunglass Hut was sold in the early 1990s and Dr. Ziff devoted his energy and financial resources to supporting a wide range of social service, education, cultural, and religious activities.  Dr. and Mrs. Ziff are passionately committed to improving the quality of life in the community. 

Dolores shares her husband’s zest for life and has enjoyed an eclectic range of experiences.  Her interests include the fine and decorative arts, theater, culinary invention, style and fashion, and even agriculture.  Mrs. Ziff was an actress with the British Broadcasting Company and was in the first James Bond film Dr. No, subsequently appearing in two additional Bond films.  She worked with famed British director Peter Brook, casting his film of William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, for which Brook received an Oscar nomination.  During that period she lived in Jamaica, and then became a Morgan horse breeder on a large working farm in Vermont, and later owner and grower of prime apple tree orchards in North Carolina.

Mrs. Ziff has distinguished herself as an activist and volunteer leader for a wide range of community agencies and civic and political organizations, including the Camillus House Board, the Citizens’ Board, the Smokey Mountain Railway Board and Linda Ray Children’s Center, where both she and Dr. Ziff served as Trustees.  Mrs. Ziff was also a member of the International Board for the Bolshoi Ballet, FIU’s Tower Society and Film Advisory Board, and the Vizcayans.

Dr. Ziff continues to lend his professional expertise to several educational and not-for-profit institutions, among them, the School of Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Miami, St. Thomas University, and Nova Southeastern University, where he served as a guest lecturer.  He also participated on the “Distinguished Professors Lecture Series” at Johnson and Wales University, designed to provide Chefs in Training with insight into business and entrepreneurship.

The Sanford and Dolores Ziff Classical Music Series will present four diverse works by the highly regarded Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Pinchas Zukerman, on December 16; a solo recital of audience favorites by four-time Emmy Award and 15-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Itzhak Perlman on January 12; the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of the internationally recognized American conductor Leonard Slatkin, on February 14; and outstanding pianist Lang Lang accompanied by the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra,  on March 29, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. The four-part series will take place entirely in one of the most acoustically superb concert halls in the world – the Center’s John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall.


Photo from the Founding Donors Dinner; Photo by Kelly Gavin.


The Sanford and Dolores Ziff Dance Series will present multiple performances by three outstanding companies: Batsheva Ensemble on December 5 and 6; The Joffrey Ballet on March 26 and 27; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on May 20 – 23.

Building Community at the Adrienne Arsht Center
December 13, 2009, 8:54 pm
Filed under: At the Center, Out in the Community

The Miami Herald’s annual event, the Herald Hunt, presented by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, rang in South Florida’s holiday season on Sunday, November 29, 2009 with a resounding hurray! The Hunt headquartered for the second year in a row at the Adrienne Arsht Center, and featured a festive holiday theme, with Dave Barry proving to be the season’s most merrymaking elf.

Cartoon Illustrations: Otis Sweat Illustrations

Celebrating his first year as President and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center this month, M. John Richard believes the choice of having the Arsht Center serve as host and hub of Miami’s annual Herald Hunt, was a natural one, saying: “Our aim at the Adrienne Arsht Center is to serve as the quintessential town square, providing a cultural, family, and community gathering space, welcoming and unifying the South Florida community.”

Cartoon Illustrations: Otis Sweat Illustrations

One of Miami’s favorite events since its inception in 1984, the Herald Hunt, brain child of Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry and Tropic editors Gene Weingarten, and Tom Shroder, is a unique urban adventure in which, over the course of one memorable afternoon, players attempt to solve a series of bizarre clues.

With the event held Thanksgiving holiday weekend, over 3,000 South Floridians found The Hunt to be the perfect way to escape the insanity of the shopping malls and enjoy some family-friendly entertainment at the beautiful Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.

Photo Credit: The Miami Herald

In a Miami Herald article which ran on September 29, 2009, results in year two of a three-year study by Gallup report that “Miami has had the most significant jump in community attachment when compared to other large cities in the survey.” What’s the motivator? Individuals feel that there are a great variety of events and offerings, diversity and culture which keeps them involved and engaged. The Adrienne Arsht Center is proud and honored to be part of this exciting revitalization and community investment in South Florida.

Florida Grand Opera Opens its 69th Season
December 13, 2009, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Florida Grand Opera

Florida Grand Opera kicked off its 69th season on November 14th with the exciting double bill of Pagliacci and Suor Angelica. Opera lovers  packed the house to witness the return of FGO favorite Kelly Kaduce, singing the lead in both operas. Marking her 6th appearance in Miami,  Kaduce was also seen on the Ziff Ballet Opera House stage in 2007 in the title role for the world premiere of Anna Karenina.


Jay Hunter Morris & Kelly Kaduce in FGO's Pagliacci. Photo by Gaston De Cardenas.


Anniversaries and debuts also mark FGO’s new season. Robert M. Heuer celebrates his 25th season as General Director & CEO, and only the 3rd director in the company’s history. Victor H. Mendelson begins his first season as President of the Board of Directors, though his family is no stranger to FGO: He represents the fourth generation in his family to support the company. Jane A. Robinson enters her first season as Chairman of the Board of Directors, following five years as president.


Kelly Kaduce & Mzia Nioradze in FGO Suor Angelica. Photo by Gaston De Cardenas.

Three new key management positions were filled this past summer, all poised to make their first season a spectacular one: Brendan Glynn is the new Director of Marketing, following a successful tenure as the marketing chief at the Broward Center; with previous posts at the Metropolitan Opera and LA Opera, Peter Somogyi is now the new Director of Artistic Administration; Lisa Bury,  with a career highlighted by 10 years at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, is the new Director of Development..

The 2009-2010 Season also opened on a bittersweet note. Long-time Miami arts philanthropist and champion, Don Carlin, passed away on November 11th. Carlin gave generously to Florida Grand Opera for many years, and his support was instrumental in the building of the Adrienne Arsht Center. The November 14th performance was dedicated to his memory.

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