Calling all artists and performers looking to drop some culture in the laps of unsuspecting Miamians: Cultra — the first-ever roving open-mike event — takes place tonight, January 19, from 7:30 to 9:30 at Tina Hills Pavillion in downtown Miami. Organizers are looking for performers who have what it takes to entertain a crowd.
Cultra is a sort of throwback to the old school. Its mission is to provide an opportunity for local performers of all disciplines and talents to show off their skills in front of fellow Miamians. Each Cultra gathering will begin with an open-stage portion that will last approximately 90 minutes, followed by a feature performance by a well-known or up-and-coming South Florida act. Artistic Vibes, which produces weekly open mikes in Miami, will host the first Cultra event tonight.
And other open mikes are to come. The third Thursday of each month from January through May, Cultra will be held in one of downtown Miami's public parks. The only thing prospective performers have to do is fill out the online performer registration form, on which they must provide some basic contact information, choose a day to perform, and describe their act. Each act will have at least five minutes to do whatever it is they please (within reason). If your music, spoken word, comedy, dance, or acrobatic act is a hit, you'll be given as much time as the host deems fit.
According to cofounder Amy San Pedro, even though Cultra seems like a new way for artists and performers to get their name out there in the 305, the idea behind the event goes much deeper than just performances and art. It's about Miami's relationship with its beautiful public places and the outdoors.
"The folks at Emerge Miami and we at Buskerfest Miami have always had a deep appreciation for downtown Miami's green spaces, which are really unparalleled in their beauty and accessibility on the East Coast," San Pedro says.
"Those spaces are constantly under threat from private interests, and we wanted to do something that aligned with our organization's mission [providing opportunities to local performers and beautifying public spaces] while preserving those spaces. Our solution was Cultra, which will ideally help people re-imagine the use of these parks and, at the same time, create more substantial relationships between the artists, attendees, and the bayfront property itself."
For now, Cultra is planned to be a temporary event, but if all goes well, it could become permanent.
"This is our first experiment with a regular, monthly production, and we're excited to see how it goes. Our primary intent is to demonstrate the possibilities the parks provide and hopefully encourage and empower other presenters to do similar programs," San Pedro says.
Money will also play a big role in the future of Cultra. Luckily, the Miami-Dade community can help in a variety of ways to keep the event running.
"There is some expense in producing Cultra in outdoor venues, so an extension of the program will be dependent on funding efforts. We do imagine a future where Cultra happens a couple times a year as a kind of biannual or annual celebration," San Pedro says.
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First things first, though. Cultra kicks off tonight, and how it is received will go a long way in determining if it's here to stay. As for what attendees can expect, San Pedro says a bit of everything and a lot of talent.
"We have some very talented performers lined up for [tonight's] inaugural event, including local acrobats/magicians Dangerfun Sideshow. Open-stage time will be filled with a mix of music, comedy, theater, dance, spoken word, and more... Rachel Rage and the Magic City Madmen will be kicking things off," San Pedro says.
"We are also thrilled to be collaborating with established open mikes from around Miami-Dade County for the execution of these events. Groups like Artistic Vibes, Words and Wine, the Imperial, and Speakfridays are providing production expertise and talent to make Cultra truly special. Attendees can look forward to not only enjoying amazing local performers, but also doing so in some truly beautiful outdoor venues. Did we mention the price of admission? It's free."
7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, January 19, at Tina Hills Pavilion, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; buskerfestmiami.com/cultra. Admission is free.