Phase 3: Profit

I think we’re all worried about our local performing arts organizations’ abilities to weather the economic shitstorm. Lately, they seem to be disappearing like Mayans.

Certainly, Miami has not been immune.

Miami City Ballet, which no longer performs to live music, has laid off dancers and pared its $14.8 million annual budget to slightly more than $11 million.


Florida Grand Opera cut its $14-million annual budget about 30 percent, froze wages and canceled a concert series.


And the Concert Association of Florida, once the major presenter of classical music in Miami-Dade and Broward, filed for bankruptcy liquidation in February.


The Concert Association's closure widened the void left by the 2003 bankruptcy of the Florida Philharmonic and the demise of Broward Friends of Chamber Music.

Yikes. It’s sure rough out there. But the young Miami Symphony isn’t giving in to the challenging climate.

''The crisis for an organization like ours was going to be more helpful than damaging,'' [conductor Eduardo Marturet] says, ``because we had no choice but to grow or disappear.''

Hmm. Interesting, if not impossible, opposition. Nevertheless, good for you! I like the arts. Keep them going!

''A fresh approach to orchestra management is really prevailing,'' says concertmaster Daniel Andai.

''It's like a gem that needs to be polished to become a precious stone,'' says Rafael Diaz-Balart, board chairman. ``We are going to get there.''

Like I said, good for you. But how are you going to get there?

Founded in 1989 by Cuban immigrants -- Ochoa, and his wife, Sofia, who recently retired as executive director -- Miami Symphony long recruited board members and musicians who were most familiar to its core leaders.

That meant the symphony, its leadership and its supporters were largely homogenous.

I’m not sure I follow.

Getting there will take more money, Diaz-Balart says, and, perhaps more important, a change in the orchestra's image as a predominantly Hispanic cultural group.


''It operated and developed very much as a Cuban-American, Hispanic organization for many years,'' Diaz-Balart says. ``And, I think, as a result of that aspect of the organization, we encountered certain—


--not necessarily obstacles-- but we were not properly represented on the board of directors by all the communities that exist in Miami, and as a result our outreach into the different communities . . .

[think about what you say, now]

was hampered.''

Unless I’m reading into this way too much (which is a possibility), this sounds like...

Well, I’ll just say this: the majority of Miami-Dade’s population is Hispanic, but that’s not where the money is.

Phase 1: Get rid of the poor Hispanics
Phase 2: ...
Phase 3: Profit


former miamian said...

Well, that's Miami for you. Traditionally (i.e., unsubstantiated generalities off the top of my head) the main groups with money and influence are: 1) northeasterners, many of whom are seasonal residents (=snowbirds & Jets/Yankees fans), and 2) the Cuban exile community (the Diaz-Balarts are a major political family). Despite their influence, the exile community is not everybody's favorite demographic, including among the rest of Miami's Hispanic population. Diaz-Balart is right on about the Miami Symphony's image, and they need to get beyond the sense that they're a "Cuban band" in order to pursue more diverse audiences, donors, and grant opportunities. I do hate hearing that tone of "noone likes us 'cause we're Cubans" victimization, but they're not all wrong--the exile community tends to strike many people as insular and self-serving.

I enjoyed the Miami Symphony concerts I attended when I was a resident, and for the sake of the musical life of South Florida, which has always been on shaky ground, I wish them the best.

Empiricus said...

Thanks, former miamian. Always glad to get close-up insights.

To their credit, the Miami symphony does seem to be going in the right direction, musically. I wish them the best, too.

Though, I find it odd that there's a "Cuban band" image in spite of the repertoire.

Sator Arepo said...

Hooray for the "Underwear Gnomes" tag.

former miamian said...

"Cuban band" wasn't the best way to express that (they're not Orqestra Aragon or the Tropicana--the rep. is mainstream classical). I meant organized by, composed of, and performing for the Cuban community. The group isn't exclusionary, but they definitely fit snugly in their demographic niche when I was in town (1990s, early 2000s). I think this fit had a lot to do with their success getting started and sustaining their first two decades, giving the symphony a sense of community and family closeness that the big organizations (the now-defunct large symphony and concert series) didn't have.