Monday, February 15, 2010

How Many Cultural Venues Does Miami Dade County Need? By Geniusofdespair

Miami-Dade County, please stop funding cultural venues until you think this through or do some polls as to whether they are going to get used. The report in Sunday's Miami Herald about the underutilized $20,000,000 venue in Little Haiti should speak volumes. They built it with much needed tax dollars and now the City can't afford to run it and no-one much is using it. Yet another boondoggle with our tax dollars?

In Homestead they are building a Cultural Center, the Seminole Theatre. Michael Spring says that you can't expect people to travel to the Arsht Center so the county is funding local venues in local neighborhoods with our tax dollars. I personally think this logic is faulty. Who wants to stay close to see a substandard show? Anyway, the county afforded the Seminole Theatre in Homestead 4 grants totaling $1,523,344 which was enough to complete the exterior. The County says The Theater has reported that they have been pursuing the remaining funds but they have not yet secured the monies necessary to complete the project. I have to say that I am impressed with the oversight that Spring staff did on the Seminole project. An architect was charged with over-seeing the applications and he physically went to the site to make inspections and met with the contractor. Who knew they did due diligence?

Sources in Homestead say the city, since 1999, has given the theatre about $1.8 million. So, we have a completed shell for approximately $3.3 million with no money to complete the interior on the horizon.

Maybe we should throw in the chips now if Little Haiti's cultural center is a bellwether of what is to become of these local centers. Wait, the story doesn't end here:

It just so happens that the PAC, I reported on January 18th, was headed by Frank May the Director of The Seminole Cultural Arts Theatre a non-profit in Homestead restoring the Seminole Theater. Since the PAC's goal was to put certain people in office, and they are now in office, one can only assume that Frank May is sitting pretty in Homestead. I suspect more funding will be forthcoming for the interior work.

While about 30 miles North, the Miami Herald wrote:

A year after its understated opening, the city-run Little Haiti Cultural Center is largely unheralded, severely underfunded and sorely underused.


Anonymous said...

Get the County generated CRA Audit for Homestead. It will confirm what you always suspected.

Anonymous said...

Lyric theatre, Colony theatre, etc. Maybe the saturation point is here. For a population fascinated by the likes of Britto, maybe there is no one for these venues. It is just wishful thinking to believe everyone wants culture.

Geniusofdespair said...

I asked Kathy for the audit--no reply yet.

Anonymous said...

Hey, just ask someone like Gwen Margolis: politicians will always vote to build a cultural building to have their photo taken next to it.

Anonymous said...

Misappropriation of funds:city, county, state, and federal. A project in the works for almost two decades. Hopefully the FBI will investigate.

CLJ said...

I think PAC's are a great investment: just look at the Broward Center and the Kravis Center: built in blighted neighborhoods, they are now sitting in the middle of vibrant restaurant and shopping districts. Look at Actors' Playhouse; Miracle Mile used to shut down at 5pm, but once the Miracle Theater became Actors' Playhouse, fine restuarants mushroomed, followed by galleries.

And all these arts centers generate clean green jobs.

The Haitian Center probably suffers from a narrow focus, but general arts centers are a great investment.

Anonymous said...

The almost S. Dade Cultural Arts Center is/will be another money pit. Unless they give away the tickets (ah la transit with the new bus routes, now cancelled), the thing will be so under attended it will never come close to paying for itself.

Anonymous said...

Seminole is hiding something. Check the records. Frank May needed a new council to cover what is really going on.

Anonymous said...

Apparently CLJ hasn't been down in the city of Homestead to see what is, or has been happening for the last 25 years. This is not a Miricle Mile or Actors Playhouse Culture neighborhood. Homestead, especially (downtown Krome) has very little disposable income for a city that has grown in the easterly direction. The former city leaders fed by developers,& bankers campaign money led to the growth, now forclosure ridden east Homestead & over-built commercial real estate.
The Seminole theatre will continue to be a money pit and if and when it is completed, will have no parking facility close by and and still have a noisy truck route.
The city leaders have treated the Krome Ave down-town district with
crums from the table. If the Seminole theatre gets a CO the starving antique merchants may get a bone.
The PAC's will continue on more unbridled growth catering to their future election candidates.


youbetcha' said...

This was a Shiver deal. He loved them. He in fact called himself Artsie Fartsie in a meeting about the theater.

They discovered that they could not put an entire dance troupe or musical group on the stage. So, they begged the city until the city gave up about 25 feet of Loser Park to accommodate the need for a larger Stage. Then they realized that the South Dade Performing Arts series that has 5 or 6 events a year could not fit into the venue. They were holding performances at South Dade High School because they needed a venue that could seat over a thousand. There was no way that that that artist series could fit into a theater that sat about 600 or 700 people.

The worse part about the deal is that they covered up an amazing piece of art that was painted on the north wall where they expanded. It was a mural of the history of Homestead, very colorful and very detailed. It even detailed the Pitts Airplane and fighter jets. What a loss.

Anonymous said...

People in Homestead are not culture junkies...they like car racing or to go to other sports. What is wrong with just being couch potatoes? You are not going to make them go to a cultural center just because you build it.

Anonymous said...

The Little Haiti Cultural Campus probably cost over $30 Million. Yet it sits empty and hardly ever used.

It was a scam from former commissioner Arthur Teele who subsequently shot himself in the head in the lobby of the Miami Herald building. Then indicted commissioner Spence-Jones took it over and attempted to steer contracts to her friends. When Spence-Jones wanted to do campaign events to promote herself she forced the City to open the theater and pay staff to stay at night. Taxpayers are losing thousands every day.

Anonymous said...

And now FDOT wants to run trucks up east/west section line roads in the Redland to keep the trucks out of the downtown area in Homestead. Government experts say Krome is an important evacuation route in a hurricane (or a Turkey Point event). During evacuation, we would not want vegetables being delivered in large trucks. This makes tons of sense.

On the other hand, I am happy that they are starting to think about that downtown area. I am planning on purchasing season tickets to the Seminole Theatre. I hear there is a young up-and-coming play write who is reinterpreting Dante's Inferno. That would be a sweet venue for this type of project. Perhaps they can speed up construction.

I am a little concerned about the growing tension between Redland and Homestead governments, though. They are saying that Homestead is just pushing their problems off on the Redland district. Gosh, those Redlanders are such poor sports.

Others think this means war between the two regions. I find it hard to believe, but I have been wrong before. I just wanna point out that if Homestead insurgents plan on burning crops in the Redland district, they had better be purchasing carbon credits to offset this activity.

I am not taking any chances. I have already unloaded all my Shiver bucks and stocking my wine cellar with extra bottles of fruit wines. Screw the Florida tomatoes. I don't have time to can. I will just buy the Mexican ones.