Miami’s Arts + Entertainment District, an urban residential neighborhood connecting the Wynwood Arts District and Design District to downtown, hosts free events around the city for locals to get familiar with the area.
Vendors, artisans, designers and musicians all gathered last Sunday for the fourth Miami Flea, a spin on the traditional flea market with new and vintage clothing, jewelry for sale and more than 20 purveyors selling everything from antique cameras to dog treats, a hair salon tent, and a pop-up book library. There was also a grub garden where attendees could buy food from local eateries and a stage for musicians to fill the street with their sounds.
The Flea has become a growing monthly event, each one aimed at creating culture and awareness of the local Miami flavor, carefully curated and logistically coordinated by event producers Isabella Acker and Pola Bunster of The Prism Music Group.
Acker and Bunster are well known in the Miami music scene and specifically aim at highlighting local performers and merchants. For them, it’s about being able to showcase talent from all spectrums.
“The immediate feeling you get when you see the Flea is that it’s a thoughtful event. Like local businesses engaging with the community, it’s really what this event does,” Acker said. “That’s what makes it really special, not only for business owners but attendees. They are surprised to know the soap vendor lives in their backyard, and they can order from her. People are really meeting who is here.”
Besides an eclectic mix of vendors, a staple at the Miami Flea is live music. Since the first event last August, each has given four different Miami acts a stage to perform on. Acker and Bunster go through a selection process to ensure that the artists have the appropriate exposure.
“What I’ve realized is the music brings people in and makes them stay. Few people came for the music,” Acker said. “People were clapping and dancing and sure, maybe some of them knew one or two bands, but, for the most part, it was a discovery of music. Those bands have been playing in Miami for the last 5 to 10 years and yet they have nowhere to play.”
The challenge for Acker and Bunster is breaking the musical identity that’s associated with Miami and enhancing a live music culture here, such as in cities including Austin or Nashville.
“If you tell someone the only reason to go to an event is for the free drinks, you are creating a vicious cycle,” Bunster said. “It’s insane to us that half of the bands are Grammy-nominated or have won Grammys and people don’t know who they are.”
This year, the Prism Music Group team is looking to create even bigger events for the Arts + Entertainment District with community, music and culture at its forefront so more people can engage with their local businesses, artists and each other.
“We’re not being gatekeepers of culture. We’re opening this up to everyone and anyone who can appreciate it. Community’s never been glorified in Miami, no one ever thought that was the cool thing and in the last year, it has been. On a root level and a human level, we all want to connect. People want something authentic, real and homegrown.”
Follow @cportjournalist on Twitter