Though Miami is on the map as an international hub and haven for artists and festivals alike, it ranked 60th on a list of metropolitan areas ranked by artist population, according to a study released Wednesday.
But the organization that conducted the study missed the mark when it comes to accurately representing artist communities, said Michael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs.
Billings, Mont., and Ames, Iowa, were among cities that came out ahead of Miami. “That puts a dent in the credibility of the work,” Spring said.
The National Endowment for the Arts study counted 11 categories of artists, including full-time, part-time and self-employed artists. In the Miami metropolitan area, artists comprise just 1.5 percent of the working population, the data revealed.
The numbers were gathered from the American Community Survey, a long-form questionnaire that the U.S. Census Bureau uses to gather data from a sampling of Americans each month. The data in the study is meant to describe the average characteristics of artists in the United States from 2006 to 2010.
That timeframe is the problem because it’s too small, Spring said.
“30 years ago, there were no more than 100 nonprofit arts groups. Today, there are over 1,000,” Spring said. “The city and the county have a very young cultural life that is growing steadily and dynamically.”
Dennis Scholl, Vice President / Arts for the Knight Foundation, echoed Spring.
“I would bet you your lunch that if we got that survey done today, our stature would rise significantly,” Scholl said. “We are going through a metamorphosis artistically that is recent and significant and probably not reflected in the survey.”
Visible from his office, he said, are the new Perez Art Museum Miami and Miami Science Museum facilities under construction in downtown’s Museum Park.
“It’s not that bricks and mortar are the answer, but it is indicative of what’s happening,” he said. “The community has embraced culture and is participating in this awakening with great force.”
Scholl mentioned parking garages as an indication of Miami’s burgeoning arts scene. Though usually bleak structures that can pockmark a city’s landscape, parking garages in Miami are instead the target of a design competition between highly regarded architects like Zaha Hadid, Enrique Norten and Herzog & deMeuron.
“Only in Miami can you be wonderfully competitive about who can build the best looking parking garage,” Scholl said.
Miami’s art community is a young and full of informal relationships and small collectives, Scholl said, stretching from Aventura to Homestead. “When compared to older communities with more mature organizations, there is potential for us to be undercounted,” Scholl said.