Every Monday during the month we’ll be rolling out a series of Miami resolutions for 2016. We started by asking local leaders in the arts, from the symphony to the street, how they thought Miami’s art scene would evolve in the next year. We also asked them for their aspirations for the city, and how they hope to serve as agents of progress in 2016. Here’s what they had to say.
Susan T. Danis
Susan T. Danis is the general director and CEO for the Florida Grand Opera. After working for 25 years in arts administration around the country, she joined the leadership of FGO in 2012.
There is a really interesting music scene in Miami. It goes all the way from things like Nu Deco Ensemble through the Cleveland Orchestra — with the opera included. I think it will take a little bit of extra effort to get Miamians to engage with live music. We’ve been trying new and different ways to get that to happen. It’s on the onus of music organizations to make sure their programming is engaging enough where to people will come off of their, at home, on-demand computer streams and actually come out for the live experiences. I think first of all, it starts in school. People don’t just decide that they love the symphony or the opera. We need arts education so that we’re raising generations that are familiar with the performing arts and understand the value of live performance. The future of opera will also depend on what we do outside of performing venues. How do we bring it to the people? Maybe taking opera out of the performing arts hall and into someone’s backyard, making it easier for people to attend a live performance. I think that there are some amazing musical programs planned for this year and we all are working towards engaging the community in a different way. I think by the end of the year, Miami will be a changed community. It will be a better place where people will have more appreciation for the power and enjoyment that comes from live music. We’re on our way to becoming an even greater city.
Howard Herring is the president and CEO of the New World Symphony. A native Oklahoman, and pianist by training, he took over leadership at NWS in 2001, after spending 15 years as the executive director of the Caramoor Music Festival.
Miami’s music scene is filled with promise. There are several exciting experiments in play. We’re finding performance formats that are redefining relationships with artists and audiences. Using classical music as my point of departure — the traditional format is: We play. You listen. But we are finding that the path toward engaging new audiences by being sensitive to their lifestyle choices and crafting presentations that are in line with their pace of life. This is all without compromise to the artistic statements we are making. Without compromising our understanding of the importance of musical elite, we are finding new ways to bring it to the public and engage them before, during, and after performances. The music scene will improve as we become even more experimental and as artists take even more responsibility and authority for the creation of intriguing presentations and as Miami becomes more sensitized to the power of the music and how it will inform their life. It’s going to take experimentation to do that in Miami. We’re in a sweet spot of experimentation and we need to make the most of it. In this next year, I think that Miami is going to become more sophisticated in its pursuit of live performances of serious music covering all genres — including classical, jazz, rock, and alternative. By the end of 2016, Miamians are going to become more sophisticated and seek out and enjoy more live performances of uncompromised quality.
In 2006, Steven Krams founded the Coral Gables Cinematheque to run and develop the Coral Gables Art Cinema, which opened in October 2010. Kram, a University of Miami alum, also owns both Magna-Tech Electronic, a supplier and installer of cinema projection and sound systems, and Continental Film & Digital Labs.
Currently, I think we are going through a great period of growth in Miami’s art and cinema scene and the results are that we have a number of art cinema screens opening and operating. It’s really inspirational when you think about where we were before, with just the Miami Beach Cinematheque, and on occasion a multiplex playing indie films once in awhile. Now we have more screens available for art cinema, which is quite an achievement over the last five years or so. In this next year, I would like to see more experimentation with the films that we are playing. This is the time to advantage of our multicultural makeup and create a larger menu of independent films. I think independent cinema represents culture in the community. It’s a venue to motivate thought and provoke the public into considering all kinds of cultural differences entities. When bringing film from across the globe, we are creating dialogue and discussion. That’s what the Coral Gables Art Cinema is trying to do — we try to provoke thought, discussion, and discourse and I think we’re doing it, and other art cinemas in Miami are doing it as well.
Mikhaile Solomon is the founding director of Prizm Art Fair, which promotes the work of artists of color, through an exhibit held during Art Basel/Miami. She also serves as the director of Public Art for the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation.
I would say Miami’s arts scene is burgeoning. There’s a lot of energy around creativity, and that that runs tangentially to the startup and tech communities. I think a lot of the creativity in Miami is located mostly in the urban core, Wynwood, and Miami Beach — but now a lot of it is migrating to as a result of real estate hikes. As a result, the art scene is still not operating as its own independent stronghold. It’s affected by other factors like housing, development, and real estate. Creatives have to find a way to spur economic growth within the creative industries so it can be an independent stronghold that is not dependent on other factors. The creative realm in Miami is still adolescent. It’s not like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. It’s still trying to figure out where and what it is. Miami needs to take a good long hard look at itself and realize that Miami already has the creative juice. It’s about supporting those people, myself included, in creating viable institutions and ideas. Many creatives source resources from outside of Miami, and it’s sad that we need resources from outwards to make inwards great. Miami has great institutions that do help, but it can’t be just one or two. We need other resources locally that can help us do our job better and also do a better job at creating a new identity for Miami. My personal resolution this year is to continue producing Prizm and making sure it’s a consistent, well-known brand. I want to create programming that attracts people and is accessible to people, and gives people a different story of Miami.
A Miami native, Atomik has been painting the city for almost 20 years. Famous for his iconic orange, Atomik’s work can be seen on walls all over Miami, and across the world.
Miami’s current art scene is seasonal. It really flourishes for the three months of November –December, and January, then maybe a little during Winter Music Conference. I think the arts scene could improve by having everyday people buying more work and collecting more art. I feel like there’s only one out of every hundred people who actually buys and cares about artwork. In bigger, or other, cities with legit art scenes, there’s more people focusing on art, buying art, and making art. In this next year I want to see people support the arts, not just in Wynwood, but throughout Miami-Dade County. The art needs to spread — more murals, more museums, more workshops. I’m traveling a lot in this next year and I want to spread the Miami art throughout the world when I paint. I’m going to New York, then traveling around Africa, and then I’m releasing a vinyl toy in Hong Kong. I’m going to paint an orange everywhere. I’m going to paint Miami everywhere. In the next year, I’d also like to do a big sculpture of an orange, and I think I can actually make that happen. I think next year all of this construction is going to be complete and there’s going to be a lot of new places to show art and hang out. I want new spots for writers to work. At the end of this year, I think there’s probably going to be a lot of new murals, more people painting, and more people hitting the streets. I’d also like to see more art in the streets.
Kathryn Mikesell founded Fountainhead Studios in Little River and the Fountainhead Residency program. As a Miami resident and art collector, Mikesell is working to cultivate, support, and grow Miami’s contemporary art community.
Miami’s art scene is growing and developing it’s in its infancy but it’s growing steadily. The biggest challenge is that unfortunately that we don’t have a very philanthropic base. We have a few very strong philanthropic players who have given tremendous support, but it’s not broad in the way we need. This year I want to see more people supporting the arts through patronage, donations, and corporate support, from larger institutions like museums, the opera, and the symphony, to the smaller organizations like The Locust Projects and Rhythm Foundation. We need more support for local. Even if just 10% of households buy one piece of art from one local artist or went to see one performance at the symphony orchestra, or Miami Light Project — that would be amazing. My role in that is to keep posting events and activities that broaden and bring more people into the art and cultural scene in a very intimate way. I want to introduce more people to this incredible community we have here and create a place full of new friendships, new conversations, and incredible art. I want people to feel. To care more. To take ownership of all that we have here. Stop talking about what we could be and start doing something. Bring people in, donate work, donate your time, and share ideas. Just do something.
María del Valle
In 2012, Maria Del Valle was named as the executive director of ArtCenter/South Florida, a grassroots, contemporary art incubator in Miami Beach.
It’s a very exciting moment for the art scene. Even though there is a lot to be done, it’s a very interesting and vibrant moment. I think right now, we have a little bit of everything — amazing independent artist driven spaces that have been running for a for a few years to the New World Symphony and Pérez Art Museum. We also have some great indie filmmakers and festivals coming out of Miami so I think we can be proud. I think that we’re growing and will keep evolving. We always hear that Miami is still in the works. We’re a young city and have changed dramatically in a few years. But if I could ask for something in this next year, I would ask for greater community consciousness of the bigger issues. I would like a more conscious audience and artist community really fighting for equality. I would like artists who can make the most of the cultural diversity we have in Miami that I think we sometimes forget about. The Art Center’s role in that is to bring critical thinking to the big issues. We’re grassroots, and we’re an artist driven organization. We work for artists. We have to keep putting artists in the front line by empowering them and giving them the resources they need.
Franklin Sirmans took over leadership at the Pérez Art Museum Miami last year after spending almost 5 years as department head and curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In his first role as museum director, and in his new home of Miami, Sirmans is leading the PAMM in a new era of art collection, philanthropy, and donor competition in Miami.
I’d say Miami’s art scene is vibrant and exciting. I think it’s maturing and it’s amazing right now. With the energy of PAMM being open now almost 2 years to the date and the Institute of Contemporary Art with another building in Wynwood, and the Bass going to re-open soon, it seems like a really exciting time. The thing that makes it so exciting and creates such positive energy is also what makes it more difficult, in that were still quite nascent in many ways as far as art and museums goes. We’re a very young city — we’re talking about a short history in terms of art collecting. So the levels of support could be better as the city, and as the residents and leaders, become more accustomed to a different level of civic responsibility. It only gets better from here. The one thing we’re looking forward to, is being a part of the improvement in the way that people attach themselves to the city. We’re excited and hoping to be a flagship museum for the city of Miami. I want people to walk out of the museum with the same energy as the Heat games. Just be thirsty and be proud to be the team that represents Miami throughout the world. In the next year, I think we’re going to be an even bigger and brighter art scene. I also think that by the end of this year we’ll have the Frost Museum of Science by our side, so PAMM will continue to evolve and transform in a way that will be visible even as soon as the next 11 months.