These two events have helped me to articulate and make real the notion that the Arsht Center is Miami’s new town square. So from Mary Poppins to Yoani Sánchez is a wide-swinging organization, and that’s exactly who we should be in this town.
Q. December marks the opening of the new [art] museum, your neighbor. How do you see the opening of that and eventually the science museum as kind of affecting the Arsht Center or changing what you do here?
It’s a magnificent triple. Programmatically, we’re talking about three institutions that have very different programmatic focus. But our lineage as cultural institutions in the same neighborhood as a destination is going to redefine Miami’s downtown. So the opportunity now to partner as three institutions has already begun.
Our first work and effort is about magnifying the importance of neighborhood development in our community, so through the work of the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation that we established, we have board members from the Arsht Center, Mike Eidson, a board member from the science center, Dan Bell, co-chairman of the campaign and board member Aaron Podhurst from the Pérez Art Museum on the Town Square board. ... The focus of this group is to be strong community advocates for a master plan that Town Square conducted a year and a half ago, for this location to be pedestrian-friendly, to be connected as an urban core and to be developing resources that the local residents and patrons who are coming to our facilities have as a destination orientation and a place that they want to return to.
We had one opportunity to get this right for the centuries, and that means that the I-395 corridor has to be completed correctly, it means what happens as a signature for that corridor is done correctly, what happens underneath the structure is critical and then the connectivity of future development projects will help to redefine what was once a blighted neighborhood into a world-class destination where people live, where people come and where the arts flourish together.
Q. Because there’s a lot of effort concentrated over there and a lot of momentum [at the new museums], do you find there to be any wariness of donating in other places, like to you?
It’s a very good question and I get where you’re going. Where would New York be in the scheme of cultural offerings as a great city, an international destination city, where would New York be if it didn’t have the arts? Think of how many arts institutions in New York require fundraising success each and every day. That’s what has to happen here. We have to be collaborative in the overarching issue that philanthropy and fundraising is critical to the success of these institutions and we need to be innovative in our fundraising programs and campaigns in gaining annual support for the programs and operations of these buildings, for the creation of reserve funds to do new and innovative work and to make our institutions permanent through endowment and additional reserve funds.
Q. So you don’t feel like you’re all in a race for the same pot or you’re all in competition?
No. I think the arts community has been very encouraging of each other as a city arriving at a moment where culture becomes a centerpiece of a city that is being seen more and more as a global destination, and for many the entry point to America. ...