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Front Page » Top Stories » Adrienne Arsht Center Sees Paid Membership Grow By More Than 1000 In Past Year

Adrienne Arsht Center Sees Paid Membership Grow By More Than 1000 In Past Year

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Written by on October 1, 2009

By Zachary S. Fagenson
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has raised its paid membership from 520 in September 2008 to 1,755 today, the Performing Arts Center Trust, its policymaking body, was told Tuesday.

The trust met for the final time in fiscal 2009 to recap the past year and iron out its plans for the one ahead.

Earlier this year, the trust revamped its fundraising, bringing the majority of work inside the trust under a newly formed development committee headed by Evelyn Greer and trust Chair J. Ricky Arriola.

Now, most fundraising falls under the newly formed advancement department headed by Suzanna Valdez, who most recently left her job as chief of staff to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz to work for the center.

In her first address to the full trust, she said the center has so far raised $238,000 of the $400,000 required by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation to earn a $230,000 grant for its masterworks series, which brings classical music to the center. And Dr. Sanford Ziff whose name is already on the center’s opera house, pledged an additional $500,000 over five years that will fund the "Ziff Classical Series."

The center also received $100,000 from the Knight Foundation to begin planning a Hemisphere Festival in honor of the center’s fifth anniversary.

The community-wide event, Ms. Valdez said, will celebrate art and culture from all corners of the Western hemisphere.

Additionally, she told the trust, both American Airlines and Marriott renewed their institutional sponsorship while Bank of America agreed to sponsor the center’s "Jazz Roots" signature series and Johnson and Wales University, Whole Foods and Viking Range Corp. will sponsor the center’s "Celebrity Chef," series which brings to Miami such culinary figures as Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert.

Ms. Valdez also told the trust that opera singer Bernadette Peters would headline the center’s fundraising cruise "Arts Odyssey" and that the trip so far has $975,000 committed. The center and its resident companies will evenly split all proceeds of the mid-November cruise aboard the Yachts of Seabourn’s newest ship, the Seabourn Odyssey.

The center has also formed a committee, headed by Mike Eidson, a name partner at law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, to work with the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and the Florida Department of Transportation on a planned I-395 project.

The project would straighten the portion of I-395 that passes over downtown Miami. The new bridge, according to renderings shown during the meeting, would pass over the parking lots the center uses on 13th Street across from the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Opera House.

"We’ve already met with MDX [and] the people from FDOT," Mr. Eidson said. The trust is "interested in making sure we’re protected visually and acoustically."

The trust also welcomed new members, including Mitchell Kaplan, founder of Books & Books; Beverly Parker, founder of Washington Cable Supply Inc.; Ralph Gazitua, president and CEO of WTDC, a Miami-based logistics infrastructure company; Israel Alfonso, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig; Nathan Leight, co-founder of the private-equity firm Terrapin Partners LLC; and Miami attorney Abigail Pollak.

And in the coming year, said Andrew Goldberg, center vice president of marketing and communications, the focus will be on expanding the center’s reach into the community.

"We’re acquiring new audiences at a rapid pace," he said during the meeting. During the "past year, 41,000 people purchased at least one show, 3,400 purchased at least four shows."

The multiple purchase bracket, he added, is one everyone hopes to see grow.