One corner of her office contains old Carnival mementos, including the neck of the champagne bottle she used to christen the companys first ship.
They dont need me, she said of Carnival. And I have other things in my head.
Like enjoying the fact that Miami is finally no longer the cultural wasteland she first encountered when she moved here in 1957 after growing up in New York, naively asking where the citys Metropolitan Museum was.
Tilson Thomas remembers walking down Lincoln Road with Arison in early conversations about forming New World Symphony.
Hard to imagine, but it was a boarded-up and scary place to be, he said. She would say, Look, were going to be on this street and this street will be reborn through the arts.
Its the young artists who are her greatest inspiration, and the feeling goes both ways.
I feel like shes a kind of godmother of mine, said singer and actor Kenyon Adams, who went through the YoungArts program in 1997 but saw her just Wednesday when he performed at the event announcing the new building.
Now living in Brooklyn, Adams, 33, said he ran into Arison at a YoungArts event in 2010 and invited her to his feature film debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. She showed up, stayed for the discussion after the film and met his wife.
It just meant everything to me, Adams said in a phone interview. It really, for me, made me feel like this is part of my family.
Adams is one of the kids Arison has invited to a party that shes calling hang out and browse next month in the apartment-turned-library in the Bal Harbour building where she lives. There will be music, and instructions that visitors should help themselves to the books and DVDs from shelves that are stocked with 10 or more copies of her favorites.
She smiles thinking about it, and all the gatherings that will follow: The kids are going to love it.