Known the world over for fabulous beaches, exciting nightlife and upscale living, Palm Beach County, FL, also boasts a tremendous array of cultural attractions. We went One-on-One with Bama Lutes Deal, the first cultural concierge, to learn about the finer things in Palm Beach County.
WATCH our video interview with Bama Lutes Deal, cultural concierge.
Why did Palm Beach County decide to establish a Cultural Concierge?
Palm Beach County is Florida's Cultural Capital™, with more cultural venues and events per capita than any destination south of Atlanta. With so many museums, art galleries, performance halls and other cultural venues, visitors to The Palm Beaches have 42,000 cultural offerings to choose from. With so much for tourists to experience, the Cultural Council decided to bring in a cultural expert who could curate events and help travelers plan the cultural aspects of their visits to The Palm Beaches. The goal is to showcase our vibrant cultural landscape and help travelers fell more like locals, to help them find authentic local experiences that reflect their own tastes and interests.
What exactly do you do as a Cultural Concierge?
I work with individual travelers, visiting groups, travel professionals and event planners to learn what their interests are and when they will be in The Palm Beaches. Then I save them a lot of time and effort by providing specific recommendations tailored to their cultural passions. This helps travelers have an unforgettable experience. I serve as their local point person, offering insider tips about The Palm Beaches' cultural events, venues and resources. And for each person, I make a list of customized recommendations. Usually I include at least a few suggestions they might not otherwise have known about. So, anyone planning a trip to The Palm Beaches can call (561) 214-8082 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started--the service is complementary.
We know about Palm Beach County's great beach communities and tourism spots, like West Palm Beach, Jupiter and Delray Beach, but we don't know as much about the cultural and educational experiences you offer travelers. Tell us about some of these unknown or unexpected opportunities.
This is one of my favorite parts of the job -- matching travelers' artistic passions with Palm Beach County's vibrant cultural offerings and finding gems that often become the highlight of someone's vacation. People who love glass, for example, might not know that they can take a glass-blowing class with a master artist--in a real studio that welcomes visitors. Lovers of sculpture are often thrilled to learn about our hidden sculpture gardens and many public art installations. We even have underwater sculptures!
Dance enthusiasts might prefer classical ballet or contemporary dance. Fortunately, we have both and much more, and it's presented in formal venues as well as experimental spaces. The caliber of artistry is exceptional, with both professional and training companies, including Miami City Ballet, Ballet Palm Beach, Boca Ballet Theatre and Demetrius Klein Dance. Visiting companies like Momix, Philadanco, Malpaso Dance Company and Bodytraffic, and others also frequent The Palm Beaches. The Dancer's Space is another lesser-known resource. It's a curated modern dance program that provides masterclasses and other participatory opportunities for experienced dancers--many of which are taught by members of those outstanding visiting companies.
Theatre-lovers might not realize that we have so many award-winning productions available in Palm Beach County. Check into Palm Beach Dramaworks, MNM productions in the Rinker Playhouse at The Kravis Center of the Performing Arts, The Maltz Jupiter Theater and FAU's ground-breaking Theatre Lab, to name only a few. There's also theatre at ArtsGarage, along with performances by vocalists, blues and jazz artists, Latin music, etc., all in a wonderfully funky BYOB space that makes it easy to meet locals and make new friends. If you love theater costumes, check out the Wick Theatre and Museum in Boca Raton, which houses an amazing collection and offers tour and, shows--even dinner before the show for a fun-filled evening.
If someone is visiting PBC for the first time, what's an ideal 1-week itinerary?
An ideal week in The Palm Beaches could include leisurely strolls down quaint streets to shop for fine arts and antiques, perhaps also a local history tour or a visit to some of our inspiring natural areas--there's just so much to discover, and walking is a nice way to take your time and explore. Antiques Row on U.S. 1 in West Palm Beach along with art galleries and shops along Lake Avenue in Lake Worth, Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Mizner Park in Boca Raton (where you'll also find the Boca Raton Museum of Art) and glamorous Worth Avenue in Palm Beach -- all great locations for visitors who enjoy treasure-hunting while on vacation.
The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach is a fabulous Beaux Arts waterfront mansion that was the lavish wedding gift of Henry Flagler to his wife, Mary Keenan Flagler, in 1903. It's a not-to-miss destination filled with art and history, perfect for anyone who wants to wander through a cultural landscape. Another "secret garden" is the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and Artist's Studio, a short walk from the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.
For nightlife, choose from the many productions at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, celebrating 25 years of excellence this season. Entertainment ranges from "The Havana Cuba All-Stars performing Cuban Nights" (November 26, 2016) to "42nd Street" (December 31, 2016), with an amazing variety of genres, performers and styles represented--Kristin Chenoweth (February 15, 2016), the Twyla Tharp 50th Anniversary Tour (February 17, 2016) and Chaka Kahn (February 18, 2016), to name only a few. Local companies, including Palm Beach Opera, Ballet Palm Beach and Miami City Ballet, also frequent this spectacular 2100-seat Dreyfoos Hall in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach.
Obviously, snowbirds are flocking to Florida in the cold winter months, but talk about some shoulder season events or activities that can be enjoyed -- and maybe at a reduced cost - by leisure or business travelers who may want to tack on some time to a business trip.
There's top-notch cabaret entertainment at the Colony Hotel's Royal Room almost all long, with only a brief pause in September and October. Our dance season traditionally kicks off then--this year catch Miami City Ballet's production of "Giselle" (Nov. 11-13) or Ballet Palm Beach's "Snow White and other works" (October 22-23). In early December, crowds flock to "Opera on the Waterfront" (December 10) in West Palm Beach, a fantastic outdoor musical extravaganza. Lynn University will host the inaugural Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition (February 4 and 5, 2017), featuring world-class competitors and a panel of judges from around the globe.
The literary arts have a similarly high profile in the Palm Beach County, including The Palm Beach Poetry Festival (January 16-21, 2017); the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University, FAU's Theatre Lab and New Play Festival and the annual L-Dub Film Festival in Lake Worth. I can even help identify opportunities to be personally engaged with the artistic landscape locally, including workshops, festivals, play readings, glass-blowing lessons, art exhibitions, private tours and masterclasses. Contact the Cultural Concierge at (561) 214-8082 or email@example.com today to begin planning your visit.
To all of this, I can add details about programs, artists, venues and time, box office contacts, VIP seating, backstage tours, access to after-parties and other bespoke opportunities. That's the beauty of working with a local arts expert.