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
January 6, 2014

As the world mourned the passing of anti-apartheid revolutionary and global leader Nelson Mandela, about 500 people from all walks of life gathered on the stage of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall to celebrate the life and legacy of the 95-year-old former President of South Africa in a free public memorial on Dec. 12, 2013.

The two-hour Mandela Miami Memorial Service and Celebration, which included readings, music, dance and prayers, was quickly organized by South Florida community leaders, who partnered with the Arsht Center as the host site, illustrating how the downtown performing arts campus has become, for many, the “town square” for Miami.

Hundreds of adults and students left work early to get to the Arsht Center for the afternoon tribute. Busloads of children from an after-school program at Alonzo Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center scrambled for seats just before the program started. Civic leaders and students read passages from Mandela’s books, letters and speeches written during pivotal periods of his life. Ministers, priests and rabbis took part in the multi-denominational, multi-ethnic show of unity.

"Global leaders like Nelson Mandela come once in many generations; his perseverance, leadership and wisdom will echo through the pages of history. We share with South Africa the loss of this great man,” said Dr. Nelson Adams, one of the event’s organizers. “It is with the utmost respect that we, along with the global community, reflect on his tireless determination to improve humanity and say farewell to this great mentor."

Along with music, dance and theater, the Arsht Center stretches beyond the traditional boundaries of a performing arts center and is increasingly the site of public gatherings for South Floridians. Earlier this year, the Center hosted a free, public homecoming for Miami-raised poet Richard Blanco after he was selected as the inaugural poet by President Obama. Drawing people to downtown Miami and building community there is at the heart of the Center’s neighborhood development efforts.

Mandela Tribute at Arsht Center 2

Mandela’s spirit will continue to live on at the Center, where the Soweto Gospel Choir will perform Feb. 5, 2014.