As the foundation expands nationally, it has added Gehry, singer Plácido Domingo and dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones as artistic advisors. And it has added a 10th discipline, architecture and design, to a lineup that includes cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing.
And its YoungArts MasterClass television program, which has appeared on HBO, is being used in public schools in Miami, New York and Los Angeles with a teachers guide so educators can use lessons from mentors in their classes.
Arison, who said she sold paintings by Claude Monet and Amedeo Modigliani to support the move, envisions the new campus as a place where visual arts by alumni will be displayed year-round, popular art walks in the nearby Wynwood district will spill over and outside projections like the well-known wallcasts at the New World Center will take place. Gehry designed the new Miami Beach home for the New World Symphony, which the Arisons co-founded.
“Once people get in here, they’re going to own it,” Arison said. “The kids are going to own it, the mentors are going to own it and hopefully the community is going to own it.”
While YoungArts will move its administrative headquarters into the new building by mid-October, the timeline for the rest of the project was not yet known. Mentors in the program will be asked for input on how the space should be used, and Gehry will involve students in the overall design of the campus.
“Whatever she wants me to do, I’ll do,” Gehry said of Arison.
An office area next to the tower building will be transformed into a performance space, and a parking lot will become a park that will attach to the existing plaza and green space, Lehr said.
“It’s nice that they’re taking over a building that’s a symbol in Miami but has been underused in the last years,” said Meaghan Lloyd, a partner in Gehry’s firm. “We’re very happy to be part of that story, which is a big part of the history of Miami.”
Yara Travieso, 26, remembers the complex from her days growing up in Miami-Dade with an architect father; they would drive around admiring buildings in the area, and the Bacardi structures were a favorite.
Now a New York-based director and choreographer who attended The Juilliard School on a full scholarship thanks to her involvement in YoungArts as a student, Travieso said she is overjoyed about the organization’s new permanent home.
“I think it’s perfect timing, it’s the perfect location,” she said. “This new generation needs that.”
Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a consultant who has worked with YoungArts for more than a year, said young people are involved in much of Miami’s artistic momentum.
“This is about vibrancy and youth, which seems so fitting for this city to make this the calling card,” he said. “Arts organizations all over America are trying to find ways to engage younger people, and Miami’s going to be truly the center of activity for younger people and serious engagement for young people with the arts.”