Owing to a series of coincidences, I have spent a great deal of time in Miami over the past year. I have completed a two-year teaching program for arts managers of 60 local organizations, I have been consulting with YoungArts, a national organization that gives talented high school students remarkable opportunities to learn and develop and I have been working with Miami City Ballet to create a sustainable financial foundation.
In every case, I have been excited and energized by the artistic community in Miami.
When one lists the ten largest arts organizations in the ten largest cities in the United States, one notices that Miami is not home to the biggest arts organizations in the nation. Only one, the Adrienne Arsht Center, has an annual budget larger than $30 million. But one should not read too much into these statistics. Miami's arts organizations seem to be on the move, energized by the growth of the city and the diversity of the population.
Unlike in many other cities, where the arts are suffering and trying desperately to hold on to audiences and donors, many arts organizations in Miami believe their best days are ahead of them.
The New World Symphony has an astonishing (relatively) new building, designed by Frank Gehry, which makes the art accessible to all through an outdoor video screen and features a flexible concert hall with state of the art multi-media capabilities.
YoungArts just purchased the iconic Bacardi building and is set to create a campus for young artists and their mentors to work and perform.
The Miami City Ballet is emerging from a period of turmoil and has renewed vigor and new leadership.
The Arsht Center is becoming an important presenter and home to a comprehensive education program.
Teatro Avante's International Hispanic Theatre Festival has been going strong for 27 years and the Little Haiti Cultural Center has brought the community together for three summers with its African Diaspora Dance and Drum Festival.
Much of this activity is funded by a passionate group of remarkable donors, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, local government agencies and a small cadre of individual donors.
There is work to be done to build the donor base of even the largest organizations. Miami does not yet have enough of a culture of giving to match the dreams of its artists. And the work of many organizations does not yet fully address the huge Hispanic population. These are challenges that must be addressed in the coming decade.
But the signs are all positive, new and fresh.
So much of the arts programming is focused on the young -- from the training orchestra that is the New World Symphony to the dancers at Miami City Ballet.
This feels completely appropriate for this young, vibrant, growing city.
Don't be surprised if some of the world's most important artists of the next 20 years emerge from this cauldron of activity.
And don't be surprised if some of the best ideas for engaging young and diverse audiences emerge from the work of the arts organizations there.
I know I won't be.