New Town Square

Performing Arts Center Trust, Inc., (PACT) d/b/a the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County

Funding Received: 2011
Miami, FL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
May 5, 2014

An Arts Education Alliance with Neighborhood Impact
By Jodi Farrell

Transforming a large, urban neighborhood takes many hands and powerful partnerships. In Miami, one of the biggest and most important partners is bringing 345,000 students and more than 40,000 employees to the creative placemaking table.

The Adrienne Arsht Center has collaborated with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) for the past eight years on arts education initiatives that provide free learning opportunities for 30,000 schoolchildren each year through programs such as AileyCamp Miami and teaching artist residencies. Recently, the fourth largest school system in the nation also has emerged as a powerful ally in the Arsht Center’s neighborhood redevelopment efforts.

The two institutions happen to occupy some of the largest pieces of real estate in the downtown Miami neighborhood they share. Together, they have buildings and parking lots that stretch across more than five city blocks, including the Arsht Center and its two main halls, and the M-DCPS administration and School Board office tower. Surrounded by vacant lots quickly being snatched up by local and international developers, the Arsht Center and M-DCPS are now working together to ensure that their rapidly changing area evolves with thoughtful, arts-centered purpose.

With the blessing of the Miami-Dade County Commission and the M-DCPS School Board, the two have started exploring the possibility of developing a multi-use structure on M-DCPS-owned land next to the Arsht Center. A joint working group is discussing incorporating street-level retail or studio classrooms, a parking deck, and a performing arts industry magnet school into the proposed building, which would create a campus stretching into the Arsht Center, taking advantage of its “behind the curtain” expertise in production, arts administration and lighting, among other business-of-the-arts fields in demand in South Florida.

By attracting young arts students to the neighborhood and encouraging foot traffic between the Arsht Center and the school, the project would feed into the Center’s master plan and its call to action for walkable streets and more public gathering spaces, serving as a magnet for the development of other like-minded projects.

Insight: Sometimes your best partners for creative placemaking already collaborate with you in other areas. Building on that positive, historical relationship can create a strong foundation for ambitious, game-changing plans.

Question/Provocation: How do you keep your eye on the prize, stay motivated and engage supporters when a major creative placemaking project could take years to complete?