By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
While the Pulitzer story was a happy interlude, it came amid a growing tide of bad news on the local stage scene. Box office appears down throughout the region. No concrete reason has been given, but many attribute the downturn to the Iraq war and the current economic doldrums. Whatever the reasons, a number of companies have released some troubling news. The Dreamers Theatre in Coral Gables reportedly will give up its space soon. The Acting Studio of Fort Lauderdale, the largest and most comprehensive private acting school in the region, has closed up shop. The studio's resident theater company will carry on in a limited fashion, co-producing Apron Strings, Michael McKeever's evening of one-acts, in collaboration with the Hollywood Playhouse. The playhouse itself teetered near collapse earlier this year. While artistic director Andy Rogow seems to have steered clear of termination, his company will move from Hollywood altogether to take up temporary residence in Fort Lauderdale.
Also on the move is Fort Lauderdale's Public Theatre, which loses its own temporary tenancy at the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre in a few months. Without a space lined up, this company appears headed for serious trouble. Meanwhile the Broward Performing Arts Center sits underused and despite several years of operation, lacks much brand awareness as a presenter. And all the while, instead of moving to support its beleaguered arts organizations, the City of Fort Lauderdale appears to be sitting on its hands.
One bright spot appears to be further south. The City of Miami's Arts & Entertainment Council recently released a report to Mayor Manny Diaz recommending specific areas where Miami can help its creative communities. While some of the ideas were pretty generic, some weren't: a one-stop process for city arts grants, administrative support, and fee waivers; city-produced special events; establishing an entertainment and media magnet high school; sending more students to arts performances; using city resources to brand Miami as a global arts and entertainment hub. Talk may not lead to action, but at least this talk is on the right track.