The Arsht Center is a performing arts center located in Miami, Florida. It is one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States.
Set in the heart of downtown Miami, FL and designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is one of the world’s leading performing arts organizations and venues. Since opening in 2006, the Arsht Center, a 501C3 non-profit organization, has emerged as a leader in presenting innovative programming that mirrors South Florida’s diversity as well as a catalyst for billions of dollars in new development in the downtown area.
Q: The Arsht Center is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this season – a milestone that is especially meaningful in Miami, where the Latinx community celebrates “quinceaneras” in a big way. What has been your approach?
As Miami’s performing arts center, the Arsht Center is called to be a reflection of the community it serves so, in planning this celebration, we really focused on ensuring that Miami could see themselves on our stages. We chose to pass on one big bash and, instead, spread joy year-round with very special moments and offerings. We’ve made Sweet $15 tickets for dozens of shows all season. We’ve launched a new series of live concerts on our outdoor Thomson Plaza and are presenting several world premiere performances, all featuring Miami artists.
Given the lingering uncertainty around the pandemic, the celebrations are a way to extend a warm welcome back to audiences – when and how they are ready to return.
Q: There is one very Miami way to celebrate a 15th birthday. Tell us about it and how the Arsht Center has plugged in to that.
As the Arsht Center celebrates its 15th birthday, young people celebrating their own “quinces” are invited to make memories at the Arsht Center. Building on the long-established Hispanic tradition of having glamorous portraits taken at age 15, the Arsht Center is offering its iconic spaces for free photo sessions all season long. The program, which we call Quince con Arsht, has already been a huge success. The demand was so high that all initial slots were claimed within the first 8 weeks and we quickly rushed to add more so that all our young people could enjoy this moment.
The young girls and guys, many of whom are theater lovers, arrive dressed in everything from sparkly ball gowns to hip street clothes for their custom shoots. It’s a memory of a lifetime and we look forward to the day that they come back with their own children.
Q: For those not turning 15 this year, how else are you rolling out the Arsht Center red carpet after such a long COVID intermission?
We know the community really missed their Arsht fix during the pandemic, so we worked hard to ensure that they would feel welcome and safe as they returned to the Arsht Center for the first time. But, we also had to make it fun!
We launched a series of concerts under the stars, dubbing them Live on the Plaza. Each one is a casual outdoor gathering with live jazz, rock, pop and salsa musicians from all over Miami. Grammy-nominated performers, such as Aymee Nuviola and Nestor Torres, got audiences on their feet and having a good time at a live show for the first time in a long time. Live on the Plaza has not only been a huge success from inception, but it has also brought new life to weeknights in downtown Miami.
The Arsht Center also partnered with local, minority-owned artists Chalk & Brush to create two stunning murals as colorful and diverse as Miami itself. The Instagram-friendly art, one with bold lettering that says “Miami, it’s Showtime,” highlights the wide range of artistry on the Arsht stages year-round. Both murals are unmissable and a cheerful welcome to guests as they enter the lobbies of the Ziff Ballet Opera House and Knight Concert Hall. This is just one of many little surprises the team has put into place to ensure the best and most memorable experience possible for all of our guests.
Q: How has the Miami community defined the Arsht Center’s role as “connector”?
The Arsht Center was made by Miami for Miami. Our commitment is to connect people from all corners of the community to the arts and each other – and our programs reflect that.
Our stages are alive year-round with artists from around the world, innovative programming from our resident companies and local arts partners, free community events that reflect Miami’s unique identity and arts education experiences for thousands of Miami children each year. Our Family Fest, Free Gospel Sundays, CommuniTea LGBTQ+ celebration and Heritage Fest are among dozens of free events that bring together people from all walks of life to celebrate each other through the live performing arts.
We also take the Arsht on the Road into communities that are a little harder to reach in the vastness of Miami-Dade County. Since 2020, we have proudly popped up more than 100 times at hospitals, parks and libraries, delighting people of all ages and interests with live music and dance.
Q: A look ahead – what’s next for the Arsht Center?
As Miami continuously evolves, the Arsht Center remains deeply committed to being globally impactful, fearlessly creative and locally connected, with an eye to future generations. While we have many plans in place, the one I want to share with your readers is a new unique program tailored to address the teen mental health crisis through the arts.
Through the program, titled I am Me, the Arsht Center will offer free live arts experiences to every 9th grader as a therapeutic tool to manage stress, depression and anxiety. It began in January with a world premiere play created by Miami actors/playwrights. I am Me will tour 50 Miami high schools in 2022. There will also be a series of hands-on arts-based workshops where students themselves make art as a means of healing and processing emotions.
The Arsht Center is proud to be the first performing arts center to address teen mental wellness through the arts with free programming in every district high school. When we think of the future, we must ensure a bright one for our youngest – and a program like I am Me can be our legacy.
Reprinted courtesy of Arts Management Magazine