Point of View


I very recently moved to South Florida, and I wanted to find opportunities here that would allow me to continue the acting career that I trained for at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Experimental Theatre Wing and continued to pursue in New York City. As a professional actor, I’ve worked off-Broadway and regionally. My search quickly led me to the Adrienne Arsht Center. I saw this eclectic, sophisticated, and multi-faceted arts center as a treasure and wanted to be a part of it. I now work in the box office as a Customer Service Representative.

Before I moved to South Florida, I had been in Birmingham, Alabama working as a project manager in a business consulting firm and then started my own Holistic Health Coaching Practice. When I saw the call for proposals for “Miami Made” [the Center’s commissioning and performance initiative of new work by South Florida artists], I knew that it was time to put to paper a performance idea that I’ve had in mind for a while. “My Friend Nina” is a journey through the accounts of five different characters: Helen, Dee, Lottie, Buck, and Delia. They vary in their experiences– a lovesick 15 year-old girl, a hard-working African-American man, a Civil Rights Freedom Fighter, a young Casanova, and a demure French socialite. The tie that binds all these characters is the influence that Nina Simone’s music has had on them finding their own voices and truths through her music and message.

The reading went off without a hitch, thanks to the support of my fantastic narrator, Marcell Black, and the excellent technical team. Being a newcomer to the area, it was my absolute pleasure to see every seat in the Peacock Foundation Studio filled. The Adrienne Arsht Center community of theater-goers proves to be just as supportive as the Center itself. Throughout the process, I was met with an enormous amount of support from the Adrienne Arsht Center team, especially [programming director] Hollie Altman, and am very excited to say that I now feel a part of the Miami Arts Community. As an emerging artist, there’s nothing more heartening than a superlative arts institution saying, “We believe in your work and are excited to see what you will produce.” This kind of support and encouragement is something that I continue to experience now as an employee in the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Box Office.

November 24, 2010, 9:43 pm
Filed under: My POV

Basel is back, and the Adrienne Arsht Center is thrilled to celebrate the return of the most dynamic visual art festival in the Magic City… and add our own artistic voice to the mix!  This year, we will throw our doors open – presenting a full complement of exciting performances, special events, and educational activities all designed to spotlight the intersection of visual art and performing arts in unique and inspirational moments on every square inch of our campus.  

Kicking off our nod to Basel is the iconic Merce Cunningham Dance Company, appearing at the Center as part of the company’s farewell Legacy Tour, honoring Cunningham’s astounding body of work and remarkable contribution to American modern dance, art, and culture.  Thanks to the generous and visionary support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Cunningham company’s residency features an extraordinary week of six special performances, live music, free community master classes, workshops, and lecture-demonstrations for the entire South Florida community. 

Nurturing the diverse and dynamic talent in our own backyard is part of our everyday mission at the Center, and during Art Basel week we are honored to host the premiere of Miami’s newest local theater company, Zoetic Stage.  In a wickedly funny new theatrical comedy by Michael McKeever called South Beach Babylon, this brand new troupe offers a story of five artists and their madcap adventures in the weeks leading up to Art Basel.  It’s an ode to Art Basel on stage! 

Art is everywhere this month, especially since we recently unveiled Lincoln Center’s List Art Collection in Miami.  On loan from our sister performing arts center in New York, the exhibition showcases more than 30 fine art editions by some of the most acclaimed visual artists of our time.  The collection graces the halls, lobbies, and public spaces of the Adrienne Arsht Center, underlining our goal to serve as a town square for world-class artistic programming and meaningful community building, welcoming each patron and passerby to experience first-hand the transformative power of the arts.   

From Merce Family Hour dance for toddlers to a special photo exhibit by Julian Lennon to a site-specific installation by acclaimed Miami/New York visual artist Daniel Arsham, the Center will present six full days of dance, theater, music, and art – all designed especially for South Florida’s Art Basel adventures.  We hope to see you on our campus for Arsht does Basel 2010! 


M. John Richard,

President and CEO, Adrienne Arsht Center

MY POV: Stuart Kennedy
November 10, 2010, 9:44 pm
Filed under: My POV

My introduction to Free Gospel Sundays (the ongoing series of performances at the Knight Concert Hall which in its 2 ½ year history has been attended by more  than 11,745 people) came in the form of an idea written on paper.  Specifically, it was a 150-word Knight Arts Challenge application from the Adrienne Arsht Center.  I had no idea that those few words would manifest themselves into an unbelievable, joyful experience that I will never forget.

At the time, I was an intern at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation helping to run the Challenge, a contest that seeks out and funds the best ideas for the arts in South Florida.  In their allotted 150 words, the Adrienne Arsht Center managed to captivate my imagination.  You can picture it – the Knight Concert Hall filled with local gospel choirs, along with the added bonus of a nationally recognized Gospel singer, buses to bring in the community from all over the county and free tickets to those who wanted to attend.  Of course, I thought it was a great idea, but it didn’t prepare me for the actual experience. 

The  afternoon I attended, the Knight Concert Hall was alive with energy.  Not just on stage, but throughout the crowd.  You could feel it from the minute you got close to the  hall.  The concert was standing-room only. All tickets had been given away weeks in advance. People were arriving in droves.  Not just the traditional arts patrons  and not just the friends and families of the performers, but people representing the full spectrum of Miami’s diversity were pouring into the Knight Concert Hall.  One of the most memorable sights were the ladies getting off  buses, adorned with beautiful, large hats (a scene that inspired a short film by Dennis Scholl, Marlon Johnson and Chad Tingle entitled Sunday’s Best, which premiered at a later Free Gospel Sunday).

As I sat back and thought about my experience, from the words on paper to the gorgeous music emanating from the stage, I realized how amazing it was that Miami had this opportunity.  Free Gospel Sundays affirmed for me that positive things are happening in Miami.  Great ideas are becoming reality.  And the community will come together, especially when the music moves them.

My POV: Abby Thompson
October 21, 2010, 7:29 pm
Filed under: My POV

My name is Abigail Thompson. I am nine years old and in Mrs. Brody’s class in the 4th grade at Kendale Elementary School.  On Friday, September 24, we went to see Rock Odyssey at the Adrienne Arsht Center for a school field trip. 

As we were getting ready for our field trip to go see Rock Odyssey, I checked in with my friend Kyle, who said, “I’m really excited for this field trip.” I was very excited, too.

“This is gonna be so cool! I can’t wait!” I kept telling myself as the busses drew nearer to the Adrienne Arsht Center. As we were told where to go by the friendly ushers, we were becoming more and more excited.  As we finally arrived in the theater, I took note of some designs. There were many speakers, and even more lights.

The lights dimmed, and everyone was really excited for the show. The actors were great; the music was grand; there were great special effects and wonderful clothing designs. In some songs, the kids (audience) decided to join in. We started waving and clapping!  Our wonderful teacher Mrs. Brody said, “I think it was great how the kids all joined in on the fun!”

After the show, I decided to ask some people about what they thought about the show. Another teacher, Mrs. Abraham, said, “The show was fantastic. This was my first time here and I can’t wait to come back!” Lucas told me that of all his experiences here, he thinks this one was the best. Bryan said, “It was epic.” Lauren announced, “It was breath-taking.” Amanda said, “Wow! This is amazing!” After that, we left. That was our amazing time at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

I really enjoyed the music and the clothing designs.  My favorite part of the show was when everyone was reunited at the end. After the show, we headed back to school, hoping we can come back again.

October 13, 2010, 1:57 pm
Filed under: My POV

One summer ago, I found myself lucky enough to land an internship at the Adrienne Arsht Center. A resident of Miami Beach since birth, I’d watched the Center spring up in my own backyard, and had become quickly enamored with its presence downtown. Every morning I’d drive down Biscayne Boulevard and for the few seconds I’d pass through the core of the Arsht Center — right in between the Carnival Studio Theater and the Knight Concert Hall — I felt the pride of Miami resonating off the buildings.  To me, the Arsht Center was a star in a city already full of shine and culture.   

When I got the call to come in for an interview for the job of writing for the Center’s blog and newsletter, I was ecstatic, to say the least. I came into the office in what I pulled together as my best office attire with my clunky visitor pass wrapped around my neck, and within those first five minutes, I was well aware I was in for more than a summer of paper-pushing. Staring down at my first three assignments — scribbled erratically in nervous hand — I took a deep breath and snatched up the phone to arrange an interview with Ricky Arriola, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center. 

I spent hours shadowing workers backstage, playing photographer at charity events and, when I could grab a chance, exploring the leviathan white halls and empty wine-colored theaters. Confidence came swiftly as I began to live for the rush of a deadline. On top of improving my skills as a journalist, I acquired the ability to work professionally and objectively. I met new friends and felt welcome in an office full of experienced superiors, and was the only one out of my high school friends who could proudly declare I loved my job.

Applying to journalism school, I wrote about my role at the Arsht Center as the defining one that brought me confidence in my career choice. Upon my acceptance into college, I knew that I owed it in part to those who gave me the opportunity to write here at the Arsht Center.

This summer I was invited to return to my position, and I gladly accepted the chance to practice my writing skills before facing journalism school. I again benefitted from another summer with my Arsht Center family and gained strength and stamina as a writer and researcher. In a few days I will begin another journey to the University of Maryland and I leave the Arsht Center with immeasurable gratitude. In particular I’d like to thank with all my heart Esther Park and Louis Tertocha for the opportunity to work at a world class center; I couldn’t have been in the place I am today without them, because although I am saying good-bye the Center and to Miami, I’m packing with me real world experience that I couldn’t have earned anywhere else.

MY POV: James Thompson
August 25, 2010, 7:14 pm
Filed under: My POV

My POV:  “If it’s not in Tessitura, it doesn’t exist!”

During the week of August 9, 2010, I attended the annual Tessitura Learning & Community Conference (TLCC) in Washington, DC  along with 14 other Adrienne Arsht Center executives and staff members.  TLCC is an annual member-driven conference supporting the Tessitura fundraising, ticketing and constituent management software package.  Community members from arts organizations around the world attend each year.  This year’s conference was no different, with more than 900 attendees from 215 organizations in six countries.  Performing arts centers, symphony, opera, and ballet companies, museums and universities are all community members and regular attendees.

This year’s conference had a heavy focus on social media interactions and alternatives to traditional business models.  ACT Theatre in Seattle, WA, for example, showed off their new membership program that replaced their old season subscription model.  Instead of a traditional season subscription, ACT now sells an “all you can see” membership at a flat monthly fee which allows patrons to attend any performance they want, as many times as they like.  This allows patrons to not only attend popular, more mainstream performances, but also explore edgy, less popular performances that they would be less inclined to attend on a “pay per view” basis.  Patrons overwhelmingly adopted the new model, and ACT is able to better predict monthly revenue from the recurring memberships. This model may not work in Miami, but it’s got us thinking about new and creative initiatives.

This is the fourth TLCC I’ve attended since joining the Adrienne Arsht Center staff.  In addition to being an attendee I was also on the planning committee for the executive track sessions.  Because of the large number of presentations and breakout sessions during the conference week, Tessitura Network staff recruits members of the Tessitura user community to assist with content planning for the conference, from concept through presentation.  In this year’s sessions, I worked with ACT Theater of Seattle, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company of Washington, DC and Dallas Symphony Orchestra in planning their sessions.  Working closely with these organizations allowed me to get even deeper into the way they run their business and bring back ideas for use at the Adrienne Arsht Center. 

Outside of the scheduled sessions, the conference allows for some networking time.  The Arts community is small and tight-knit, so the annual conference is a great time to catch up with colleagues from around the world and exchange ideas outside the designated workshop sessions.  This year we were also treated to a reception at the Kennedy Center complete with backstage tour.

Next year’s conference is in Orlando, FL, on Disney World property.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to attend, network with colleagues and bring back even more ideas!

-James J. Thompson, Senior Director, IT, Adrienne Arsht Center

July 6, 2010, 8:42 pm
Filed under: AileyCamp, My POV

Hi, my name is Debhorha Guerra,  I’m 15 years old, and I was part of the inaugural year of AileyCamp Miami 2009. I had an awesome experience at AileyCamp. The personal development classes helped me increase my self-esteem; they helped me understand many of the changes I was going through as a teenager.  The creative communication classes were extremely helpful; these classes helped me to communicate better and in many creative ways.  All the dance classes helped me gain strength and confidence while at the same time helped me to let go of all the stress and pressure I was going through as an average teenager.  The teachers at the Camp were always enthusiastic and ready to help whenever needed.  Even the Camp’s field trips enhanced the overall experience, and created bonds between the campers in a fun atmosphere.  AileyCamp Miami exceeded all my expectations.  It provided a great combination of education, new experiences, friendships and excitement.

After such a fantastic experience I was saddened by the fact that I was not going to be able to return to AileyCamp this summer because of the age limit. The program had such a profound impact on me that I was determined to be involved this year in any way possible. Already a volunteer at the Adrienne Arsht Center, I was pleased to find out that I could volunteer for AileyCamp Miami 2010 as well.  This gives me the opportunity to have the same impact on others as I received while being a Camp member.  

As a volunteer this year, I have gained a completely new perspective on the Camp.  I saw how hard staff and administration work to make the Camp flow easily for the campers.  I also realized how much they are informed on teenage behavior in order to enhance the campers’s experience.  Also as a volunteer, I see the amazing growth of the campers, and I find it astounding to think that that was me just one year ago. 

It has been a rewarding experience so far as a volunteer.  I look forward to the upcoming weeks.  It was marvelous to be a camper and it is proving just as marvelous to be a volunteer.

July 6, 2010, 7:57 pm
Filed under: My POV

This week, Raúl Esparza comes home to perform in the production of Babalu: Lucie Arnaz Celebrates the Music of her Father, Desi Arnaz in the Knight Concert Hall.  This will be Raúl’s first time performing for his hometown audience as a Tony-nominated actor. As Cuban-Americans, we take great pride that Raúl was chosen to serve tribute to a Cuban celebrity by honoring the music and legacy of Desi Arnaz. 

Raúl and I began our friendship well before we were born. Our families were so close that the lines between “friends” were quickly blurred into “family.”  We were both born to Cuban parents in Wilmington, Delaware, months apart and grew up as cousins.  We shared family events, childhood summers, celebrated birthdays and marriages.

There is one summer, out of many, that stands out. We were about 12, and we were spending several weeks with Raúl’s aunt and uncle, who are my parents’ best friends, at their apartment on Miami Beach. It was a summer filled with lots of love and great fun. We spent our days in the water, visited the zoo, went to see movies like ET, and made up games. One game became our summer obsession… it was a game of “Who Dunnit” with four characters each of us had to act out in order to solve a crime. We would make up the story as we went along and each storyline and performance was more outrageous and dramatic than the one before. Our imaginative, elaborate stories rivaled those seen on “Law and Order.” Raúl would approach each part with such enthusiasm and passion that he would stop us in our tracks.

It did not surprise me that Raul would become an actor. He was talented from the start and was committed to learning and worked hard to perfect his talent.  It’s been with great pride that we have been able to see him perform in many different cities in a variety of performances where he consistently draws his audience into the lives of each character he portrays. 

Whenever possible, we always visit Raúl backstage after a performance. As we were leaving the theater with him after a recent performance in New York, he mentioned that he was feeling a little run down. My mother quickly went to him and buttoned up his coat, wrapped the scarf around his neck and told him: “Cuidate hijo”.  He is a four-time Tony-nominated stage actor, a performer on TV and in the movies, a phenomenal singer, and he will always be part of our “family.” 

Tessie Alvarez Bravo
Senior Program Director
Hands On Miami

My POV: Kate Bishop
June 3, 2010, 7:17 pm
Filed under: My POV

In conjunction with recent performances by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Robert Battle, who succeeds Judith Jamison as the company’s artistic director next season, taught a master class at the Center for students from the New World School for the Arts and Academy of Arts and Minds. 

On Thursday, May 20, 2010, I was honored to be invited to attend a master class with Mr. Robert Battle.  On the simplest level, having a class with him gave me great insight into the piece I am dancing this summer.  The piece, Battlefields, is choreographed by him, and his direct explanation of the style is beyond just valuable.  On a deeper level, hearing the insight Robert has into the world of dance was the most rewarding.  He describes dance as being a part of “our lineage” as people and as people witnessing history.  I felt connected to dancers of the past and future through his words.  Dance is about passing down the lineage, and Robert is someone who has literally stood where I stand today, as a NWSA alumni, and has created success for himself in the dance world. I can only hope to be as fulfilled as he appears to be, and so willing to share it.  It was an experience I will never forget.

Kate Bishop

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. 



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