The Curtain Rises on Pompano Beach’s New Cultural Center
The Curtain Rises on Pompano Beach’s New Cultural Center
For over a year, the percussive rhythm of jackhammers and the high-pitched song of drills have echoed from alongside Pompano Beach City Hall. While the feverish dance of cranes and tractors were the only pas de deux taking place on the large expanse, the sense of something amazing to come was palpable. Over the seasons, as people drove down Atlantic Boulevard, they were compelled to turn their gaze towards a dramatically designed new building that seemed destined for the spotlight. As the outside structure developed its iconic form, planning began for the extraordinary performances to come. Now, after years of dreaming, The Pompano Beach Cultural Center is ready for its debut. Curtains up!
The grand opening events will include several festive celebrations along with the unveiling of a world premiere Cuban art exhibit. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony, on Thursday, May 11, will undoubtedly gather numerous residents who are thrilled to finally see this magnificent new venue open. The event will feature speeches by those who spearheaded this center, and will honor the City and County Commissioners, past and present, who were instrumental in its creation.
Thanks to the determination and foresight of City and County visionaries, Pompano Beach will join the ranks of other great municipalities who have a state-of-the-art facility, which serves as a beacon for culture and learning. The two-story structure which spans 47,000 square feet will encompass the Cultural Center, which includes an art gallery, a flexible space for performances and special events, a digital media center and the new library, which will open in the summer.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be followed by “IMAGINE: A Celebration of the Creative Mind,” which is proudly sponsored by OHL Building and presented by Bateman Gordon Sands. The production will feature top regional performers in a vibrant evening of music, dance, theatre and spoken word, conceived and directed by the multi-talented Michael McKeever. This event will be free and open to the public.
On Friday, May 12, the first fundraising event will take place, as Sabbia Beach proudly sponsors the Preview Party, presented by Pompano! Magazine. The moment guests arrive, they will be treated to a series of sensational spontaneous performances with each area of the venue illuminated by music, dance and live art. The evening will feature fabulous food tastings, signature cocktails, live/silent auctions, dancing to a live band and tours of the gallery exhibit.
Then, on Saturday, May 13, Havana Nights will be presented by JetBlue. This event will transport patrons back to Cuba circa the 1950s with performances by two-time Grammy winner Marlow Rosado, salsa dancers, live music throughout the venue and dinner-by-the-bite prepared by Whole Foods Market.
At both events, guests will be able to view the world premiere exhibit, “Shipwrecked of Reason: Half a Century in Cuban Art,” featuring the works of the top 20 Cuban contemporary artists on loan from the Cuban government. This exhibit is presented in partnership with the Latin American Art Pavilion (LAAP).
The Vision for the Cultural Center
While there is tremendous excitement about the opening of the Cultural Center, the vision for this type of venue was not part of the original proposal. Instead, it developed over time as the planning for the library moved forward.
“The library had been planned for years,” explained Mayor Lamar Fisher. “But the idea of adding the cultural center began to flourish when Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) was engaged as the Executive Director of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Their ideas to reinvent Old Town Pompano Beach placed strong emphasis on arts and culture venues.”
Kim Briesemeister, co-founder of RMA, advised the City that cultural uses were very important to any redevelopment program. The library plan then quickly morphed into a larger vision to include a City cultural component on the second floor, as opposed to a traditional library.
“We toured most of the Pompano Beach City Commissioners through the CRA/City-built library/cultural center in downtown West Palm Beach as inspiration,” explained Briesemeister. “And from these tours the digital media center and other components were conceived.”
From there, the CRA conducted a feasibility study for the site. After these studies, which determined the best-sized venue for the market, the team turned to the residents for input.
“We received overwhelming response from our residents who had been thirsty for cultural arts,” explained Fisher. “They welcomed the development of live-work-play opportunities.”
For Mayor Fisher, his goals are straightforward:
“My hope is that the center fills a niche that no one else can offer: providing educational opportunities with the media center; providing opportunities for new and upcoming artists to display their talents; offering a venue for weddings, private corporate events; and showcasing our all-around and well-rounded city as one of the finest in America.”
Entrusted with the managing and programming of the cultural center is the Cultural Arts Creatives (The Creatives), led by President and CEO Alyona Ushe.
“When The Creatives team examined the cultural landscape, we determined that South Florida lacked a venue that focused on the vast regional talent in our own backyard,” explained Ushe. “No venue had dedicated itself as a home for the brilliant cultural organizations throughout the tri-county area. We felt that our mission was to reach out to these groups and offer them a venue and an opportunity to develop in their respective genres, while also benefiting from the synergy of the other organizations and The Creatives’ guidance.”
The Creatives issued a call for organizations and dozens applied. Through a juried selection process, eleven regional non-profit organizations were selected to become resident companies, otherwise known as the Cultural Alliance.
The organizations that have been accepted as members of the Cultural Alliance, through the end of the 2018 season, include Arts Ballet Theatre, Brazilian Voices, Curtain Call Playhouse, Dance NOW! Miami, Florida Classical Ballet, Fushu Daiko, Outré Theatre Company, Rootz of Music, South Florida Chamber Ensemble, South Florida Jubilee Chorus and TheatreSouth.
“This is an outstanding amalgamation of talent,” said Ushe. “Our vision for the Center is to feature the best-of-the-best of South Florida performers and we are thrilled by the dazzling and diverse array of organizations that will form the foundation of our first season.
“Each organization on their own is a dynamic artistic force and the Cultural Center will give them a grand showcase to display their talents. But that is only the beginning, as we strongly encourage our Cultural Alliance members to collaborate, explore and utilize each other’s expertise to create programming that’s second to none,” continued Ushe, who is also planning on commissioning a work that will feature all the Center’s Alliance members.
While the flexible theatre space will be jam-packed with live performances, the gallery space will be featuring an eclectic mix of works from leading local, national and international visual artists.
The Cultural Center is honored to have achieved an artworld coup by securing the world premiere exhibit, “Shipwrecked of Reason: Half a Century in Cuban Art,” for its inaugural exhibition running through the end of July.
On loan from the Cuban government, this exhibit is curated by the internationally renowned Isabel María Pérez Pérez, and is presented in partnership with the Latin American Art Pavilion.
Pérez Pérez is the Chief Curator Editora Ejecutiva del sello ArteCubano. She is at the forefront of the contemporary Cuban art movement, involved in projects such as the mega-exhibit Zona Franca (Free Zone), one of the collateral exhibitions of the 2015 edition of the Havana Biennial. Acclaimed as a global artistic force, curating exhibits worldwide, her views on contemporary Cuban art are revered in the artistic community and among collectors.
During her visit to Pompano Beach, Pérez Pérez will present a host of workshops at various cultural institutions throughout the city. This is an opportunity not to be missed by art collectors and artists who want to hear from this leading authority.
“Through an amazing collaboration with Latin American Art Pavilion, we are honored to host a visual art collection that pays homage to some of Cuba’s most influential visual arts innovators,” said Byron Swart, curator of the Cultural Center. “Ms. Pérez Pérez’s selection for “Shipwrecked of Reason” reflects a myriad of styles and influences that are truly representational of the island’s rich mélange of cultures.”
From the multiple visions of 20 artists, the exhibit seeks to present a condensed multi-generational mapping of pivotal moments over the last 50 years in the plastic evolution of the island. This vision is marked by the consensus and the coexistence of these creative agents who have the most diverse artistic talents and perspectives. Each artwork deals specifically with themes such as memory, identity, body and portrait, territory and landscape, and the construction of history.
The exhibit will highlight a collective of the following artists: Lidzie Alvisa, Nadal Antelmo, Abel Barroso, Roberto Fabelo, Roberto Diago, Humberto Díaz, José Manuel Fors, Aimée García, Alberto Lescay, Liudmila & Nelson (Nelson Ramírez de Arellano and Liudmila Velasco), Meira & Toirac (Meira Marrero and José Ángel Toirac), Rigoberto Mena, Manuel Mendive, Michel Mirabal, Ibrahim Miranda, Pedro Pablo Oliva, René Peña, Sandra Ramos, Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco) and Lázaro Saavedra. The collective dynamics of these artists and their work epitomize the idea of change.
“This is the first time these Cuban artists have ever shown together as a collective,” explained Maria Napoles, who founded the LAAP to address the local communities’ need to establish a platform where Latin American artists can collectively showcase their artwork. “We are honored that she created this exhibit for us and that she will be here to celebrate the opening of this splendid new cultural center.”
Working with the Alliance members to coordinate the programming schedule is Michael Tipton, the venue’s director.
“It has been an exciting task,” said Tipton, who exhibits the skill of a great conductor. “With eleven resident companies there is a tremendous amount of logistics that need to be coordinated. Thankfully, the space is flexible, allowing for a variety of configurations.”
The entire floor of the theatre space is sprung, allowing it to absorb shocks and have a softer feel, which makes dancing possible throughout. There is no set stage. Instead, staging blocks can be arranged to best suit each performance, and seating has several options, including retractable theatre-style seats for up to 400, or cabaret style with tables. Programming commences immediately at the center with a variety of enthralling performances.
The South Florida Chamber Ensemble has the summer story series planned: three mini-concerts followed by a free workshop for children to create costume pieces from the story that inspired the concert.
The Dance NOW! Miami (DNM) inaugural performance will feature the Joffrey Ballet’s “Lacrymosa,” as well as the critically acclaimed “House on Fire” and “Sogni,” from DNM’s artistic directors Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini.
Florida Classical Ballet, under the guidance of world-renowned ballet director Magaly Suarez, will showcase performances of “Majissimo” (choreography by Cuban-born Jorge Garcia, music by The Cid), “La Bayadere Suite” (choreography by Marius Petipa, music by Ludwig Minkus), and more from the classical repertoire.
Outré Theatre Company brings one of the world’s first dystopian fictions, George Orwell’s “1984,” to the stage. The book that introduced the world to doublethink, Big Brother and thoughtcrime is haunting as it is disturbingly timely. This Andrew White adaptation brings to vivid life the world of Winston Smith and his struggles against the Party’s attempts to control every aspect of his life.
“We have a spectacular summer planned,” said Ushe. “In addition to performances by our Cultural Alliance, we will be presenting concerts by leading jazz and blues artists, and offering summer camp programs.”
As the fall season approaches, all of the Cultural Alliance members will be on the calendar with multiple performances.
For information on upcoming events and for tickets to the opening weekend celebration and season programming, please visit ccpompano.org or call 954-839-9578.
CULTURAL ALLIANCE MEMBERS
Arts Ballet Theatre
The company made its debut in New York at the New Dance Amsterdam Theater in 2012 and continuously tours internationally to Europe and South America. Under Artistic Director Vladimir Issaev, Arts Ballet Theatre has become a force in the ballet community of South Florida.
Brazilian Voices is a women’s vocal ensemble that performs at community cultural and philanthropic events. Brazilian Voices aspires to incorporate the best of Brazilian culture throughout the world. The group evolved out of a vocal technique workshop organized by Beatriz Malnic and Loren Oliveira in 2001. Since then, these two devoted women volunteer their voices and time to promote and preserve the rich multicultural Brazilian heritage and to foster multicultural exchange, music appreciation and education.
Curtain Call Playhouse
Curtain Call Playhouse is proud to be the most active South Florida “touring” theater group for the past 20 years. Curtain Call has worked with over 3,500 artists, and more than 3,000 children in the arts. Appealing to both adult and family audiences, their mission is to bring the excitement of live theater to local communities with the goal of entertaining the seasoned theater-goer as well as inspiring a whole new generation of audiences.
Dance NOW! Miami
Julliard graduate Hannah Baumgarten founded Dance NOW! Miami with Diego Salterini, and through Dance NOW! has toured in the U.S., from New York to Arizona, and in Central America. Baumgarten has conducted residencies in South America, directed the Magnet High School Dance Program at Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale for 10 years, and currently serves as adjunct faculty at the Academy of Arts and Minds High School in Miami.
South Florida Chamber Ensemble
The South Florida Chamber Ensemble (SFCE), was formed in 2011 as a combination of the Art Trio and the New York Wind Trio and is comprised of six musicians from the brass, woodwind, string and percussion families. The two ensembles, who shared some of the same members, decided to join forces in order to diversify and pool resources. Their members perform throughout South Florida in orchestras like the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, South Florida Philharmonic and Boca Raton Symphonia.
Since 1990, Fushu Daiko has been training in the art of Taiko, a musical art form that builds on a more than 2,600-year-old tradition of Japanese drumming. Their music combines the traditional drums and rhythms of Japan with musical styles from around the world — such as jazz and R&B — to create an exciting, powerful, cross-cultural experience that strives to cross boundaries and connect cultures.
Florida Classical Ballet
The mission of the Florida Classical Ballet (FCB) is to promote and preserve the tradition of classical ballet by offering audiences a repertoire of exciting programming designed to enrich and inspire the community and its culture. FCB is comprised of highly talented and disciplined local, national and international artists and focuses on excellence through the fusion of Cuban technique and American style.
Outré Theatre Company
Outré Theatre Company is a young, vibrant company that believes that “theater is a living art form with the power to reimagine and reexamine ourselves and the world around us.” The company nurtures the creative spirit of individuals and the community through original and established works, utilizing a variety of mediums to engage the souls and imaginations of the artists and the audience. It strives to create theater which stimulates thought, provokes reflection and encourages activism.
Rootz of Music
Rootz of Music, Inc. was founded in 2011 by jazz guitarist, arranger, composer and music educator Eugene Grey, along with his wife Felicia K. Grey. Rootz of Music is committed to inspiring people and assisting in their growth and appreciation of music. One of the goals of the organization is to preserve the history of Jamaica’s popular music through a series of presentations of its innovative program “American Roots of Jamaican Music: The Legacy.”
South Florida Jubilee Chorus
South Florida Jubilee is proud to be affiliated with Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide organization of women singers focused on advancing the art of barbershop singing — four-part harmony — through performance, competitions and education. South Florida Jubilee singers enrich their lives through the enjoyment of singing a broad variety of songs, including Broadway tunes, classic, mainstream and gospel. These songs are arranged specifically for the rich barbershop harmonies that are identified with this art form.
TheatreSouth, one of South Florida’s newest performing arts companies, is led by 44-year theater veteran Herman LeVern Jones, MFA, who is founder and artistic director of the company.