Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Miami City Ballet: another performing arts organization ripped by the Performing Center for the Arsht ... by gimleteye

The Miami Herald has a lengthy expose on the controversy of the Miami City Ballet without a single mention of the hidden culprit: the vacuum cleaner effect of the Performing Arsht Center.

I didn't start out as a blogger. I came to Miami in the early 1990's, having produced and participated in the local theater culture and was an early supporter of the Miami Light Project; one of our most innovative and important producing arts organizations.

I was an outspoken critic of the Performing Arts Center well before a dime was spent, not that my voice or objectors influenced the 3/4 billion dollar outcome. For people involved in the performing arts in Miami -- as opposed to socialites and politicians who count names on bricks -- , it was clear Miami could not support a gargantuan edifice while performing arts organizations struggled to find their footing at the same time. It was a foregone conclusion that the Performing Arsht Center would depend on billionaires and/or road shows of Cats!, the musical.

I know the current regime at the PAC is trying its best, but the building was a colossal mistake because the donor base in Miami is so limited. In supporting the building, performing arts organizations have been cheated of opportunities to raise funds themselves.

The recession is blamed for limiting donors, including the Miami Symphony etc. But God sake's, man! Don't you think that the smarter minds in Miami could have reckoned the cost of bricks and mortar against the value of building audiences and lending support to arts organizations who were clearly struggling -- well before the recession even took hold!

Because the Herald and Ibarguen, now of the Knight Foundation, were the biggest cheerleaders of the Performing Arsht Center, I hope that the money they control will rescue the Miami City Ballet. It is a significant cultural institution, like many others who can't catch a breath because so much air has been sucked out by that God awful building.


Anonymous said...

Amen, brother.

Geniusofdespair said...

They could use some good shows. I like Jazz and was going to see the Jazz performances but I have stopped going to Arsht because there haven't been any good shows. I go when I am in New York.

C.L.J. said...

Make the trip up to the Broward Center for the Gold Coast Jazz Society concert series - it's worth the drive.

And first Sunday of every month there's the Sunday Jazz Brunch along the river. There are several places with different bands playing, there's art for sale, there's a food court. Bring your dog - the ASPCA sets up watering stations.

Buddy said...

The ballet, jazz, opera, etc. are all very BORING and no one really likes those things. Posers just pretend to like those things because they think it will make them appear more worldly and wealthy. It's like the emperor's new clothes. Someone just needs to call them out on their scam.

Gimleteye said...

I don't believe that is true. I do believe that audience development for the performing arts has been abysmal in Miami, starting with education for arts in the school system. In other words, there scarcely is any. Teachers have to buy their own supplies. If we had taken the money put into the building and invested for the long-term in growth of audience and programming, Miami would have been much, much better off.

Malagodi said...

Well Gimlet, while I agree mostly with your post, there's a couple of things missing here.

You talk about audience growth and development as if it could be manufactured anywhere, like any other industrial product. But I'd remind you of the parable of the sower, who cast his seeds left and right, some fell on fertile ground, some fell on the rocks. Miami is the rocks, or rather, the pit mine. In fact, I've come to believe that Miami is a mistake, that it should never have been built, and that it will not survive as a metropolis. But that's another story.

Buried deep in Jordan's piece is the observation that Villella felt that the Miami audience didn't appreciate the seriousness of art. That they just don't get it. This is the nub of the problem, not the issue of grandiose buildings [that is what political systems always do, build extravagant edifices to themselves], and not in what you say is lack of art education in the schools. There are few things that Miami-Dade public schools do right, but art and music education is one of them, in spite of the lack of funding.

And we should not forget to include in this discussion the absolutely pathetic vacancies that pretend to be our local public broadcasting facilites; bizarre zombies that died long ago, yet they lurch on, arms and palms outstretched.

But again, these are merely the institutional representations of the deeper reality. They are the forms which naturally express the forces which produce them.

The forces which produced Miami as a metropolis were greed and escapist fantasies. It's time to admit it. And in case you hadn't noticed, the, uh, sea level is rising. Miami, at least the dream of Miami as a sophisticated adult city, will surely drown before it reaches anything approaching wisdom.

"Some things that work in one decade don't work in the next.
So you mark it down as a noble idea that failed."
~John Giorno

Gimleteye said...

"And we should not forget to include in this discussion the absolutely pathetic vacancies that pretend to be our local public broadcasting facilites; bizarre zombies that died long ago, yet they lurch on, arms and palms outstretched."

So true.

Anonymous said...

MCB is a national cultural treasure. Villela is a genius. Miami is truly fortunate to have the MCB here. This is about art not money. If board members cannot understand the difference, they should resign. The board is the engine to keep the art going, not vice versa. There are plenty of mediocre financiers and business persons to go around but there is only one MCB and only one Villela.