On North Miami Avenue, just around the corner from the Arthouse, is the Cisneros Fontanels Art Foundation, the music club Grand Central, a skate park and Cannonball, a nonprofit that provides artist studios and meeting space. Executive Director Chris Cook says interest has grown since Cannonball arrived in 2010 because of, not despite, the gritty landscape of parking lots and industrial warehouses.
“Having that openness and unclaimed territory, that sense of potential is really inspiring because it allows people’s imaginations to run a little wild,” Cookman says. “They feel like they can actually accomplish something.”
YoungArts President and CEO Paul Lehr says the foundation was lured to the Bacardi complex by its striking architecture and the opportunity it presents for year-round performances and activities. Architect Frank Gehry is designing a multi-disciplinary arts complex that will include a park and wallcast facilities similar to the ones he created for the New World Symphony in Miami Beach. A café and jazz club that will be a venue for YoungArts student musicians and guest artists will launch Nov. 22 with a concert by classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic.
Lehr says the range of groups downtown, from YoungArts and PAMM to small galleries, is creating a crucial synergy.
“We all build on each other,” he says. “When we started announcing what we were doing, I started getting lots of calls and emails saying, ‘If you’ll be there, I want to be there too.’ ”
If downtown development follows the usual course, artists will be priced out and looking for affordable space in a few years. But Casanova, for one, is hopeful.
“My optimistic side hopes that we would at least have the ear of the people building Miami for the future to maintain the level of creativity in these neighborhoods that are being developed,” he says. “If people come together, maybe they can figure something out, find a way to keep working artists in the neighborhood without following the same formula of gentrification.”