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Nine New Year's Resolutions for Miami's Arts Community

All together now. Even you, Bosh.
All together now. Even you, Bosh.

The year 2012: It's been a good one for Miami's arts scene. Art Basel and many of its satellite fairs enjoyed financial success. Borscht Corp. hosted what most people agree was its greatest film festival to date. Construction's well underway on the new museum park, Tom Wolfe wrote a novel about us (a terrible novel, by most accounts, but still -- Tom Wolfe), and Zaha Hadid, one of the greatest architects of our time, is set to add her vision to our skyline.

Covering arts and culture in the past year has made us even more proud to live in Miami. Still, there are plenty of things we can do -- as individuals and as a community -- to support and expand the arts around town.

From saving Wynwood to giving Britto a break (no, really), these are our hopes for Miami's arts community in 2013.

Nine New Year's Resolutions for Miami's Arts Community
Ian Witlen

Buy More Art

Miami has amazing talent in every corner of its arts scene. But if there's one thing we learned from the handful of artists who moved to greener pastures in the past year, it's that we need to do a better job supporting them financially. The city's art collectors -- the rich ones who make serious investments in artists' and galleries' careers -- could stand to focus more on Miami-based artists. The rest of us aren't innocent, either; if you can't afford original works (and most of us can't), look into scoring an affordable print, or attend fundraising events like Bakehouse's Lucky You! or Locust Projects' Smash and Grab. So resolve to add at least one work by a Miami artist to your walls this year, especially if it means swapping out some crappy pop art you bought at IKEA.

Expand Public Transit

Locals have long been in agreement that Miami needs a better system of public transit. But this year's Art Basel really put the issue into focus, with drivers waiting an hour or longer just to cross the I-395 or I-195 causeways. Congestion like that isn't just annoying on its own merits; it actively prevented many from seeing the great art at the fairs and galleries around town, because they just couldn't get there. If you (like us) were working until 6pm on a weekday, you couldn't get across the causeway in time to explore most art fairs before they closed. Expanding bus service between Midtown and South Beach would reduce the number of cars on the road and help people see more awesome stuff, in theory -- but only if that service is run consistently and is easy to access.

Bring Back the Booze

Remember what Second Saturday Art Walk was like several years ago? Most gallery openings came with a side of free beer or cocktails, sponsored by whatever beverage company was courting the city's arts scene at the moment. But Wynwood's art walks have gotten bigger and rowdier since then, which led many galleries to quit serving drinks; some now close early on Second Saturdays to keep out "undesirables." And that sucks. People attending art walk these days spend more time on the street, eating and drinking at the food trucks, than they do inside the galleries, which undermines the whole point of the monthly event. If you want to engage the public, you've gotta go back to the good old days, when the success of a gallery exhibit was measured by the amount of buzz it generated among people getting buzzed.

Peter Anton's art rollercoaster, tagged during Art Basel this year.
Peter Anton's art rollercoaster, tagged during Art Basel this year.

Protect Public Art

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Defacing art that sucks is still defacing art. Those who scrawl graffiti or otherwise destroy the aesthetic of, say, a Britto or a pink snail aren't doing anyone any favors; they're exposing Miami as a city where public art isn't respected or appreciated. That means fewer artists willing to bring their work to Miami, and fewer investors and developers willing to pay for a sculpture that'll probably just end up tagged anyway. Haters need to cool it. Speaking of which....

Forgive Britto

Look, we don't like his gaudy, in-your-face creations any more than you do. But you know how they say, "Any press is good press"? That theory is working wonders for Britto. Years of complaining about his ubiquitous presence in Miami hasn't stopped the dozens of developers who keep hiring him to create sculptures for their new parks, plazas, and malls. In fact, all whining about Britto seems to have accomplished is keeping the name "Britto" relevant. Maybe if we stop giving him the attention he craves in 2013, he'll give up and move on to some other unfortunate city.

Engage Other Cities' Arts Communities

This year's Borscht Film Festival generated a lot of headlines when Chris Bosh and the NBA threatened lawsuits over some of its content. And yeah, it was kinda fun to watch that showdown go down, but all that drama overshadowed another, greater accomplishment: For one week, Miami turned into a nationwide indie film hub. Borscht hosted filmmakers from all over the world -- Cuba, South Africa, and cities around the U.S. like New Orleans and Philadelphia -- who came to Miami to swap ideas and advice. In the process, they inspired and educated local filmmakers, and showed off the advantages of shooting films in Miami to some of the world's most promising up-and-comers. That's a model plenty of this city's fledgling cultural communities (street art, comedy, theater) could follow.

Miami City Ballet's The Nutcracker
Miami City Ballet's The Nutcracker

Get Old School

It's not terribly trendy to point this out, but traditional performing arts in Miami are doing some pretty innovative stuff. Miami City Ballet is under new leadership for the first time since it was founded; its performances are important enough to tour Europe and warrant write-ups in the New York Times, but are rarely noticed in Miami. Florida Grand Opera spent this year innovating with crazy prosthetic costuming and public outreach efforts, but has suffered the same fate. So if you think you know what you're missing there, you're wrong, and it's worthwhile to give performances like these a chance. Hell, if Wynwood hipsters can make curly railroad villain mustaches cool again, they should have no problem with the damn Nutcracker.

Build a Film Studio

Trump wants to build a film studio? Let him do it. Trump can't build one on his proposed site because of zoning or safety issues? Fine -- let him, or anyone for that matter, build one somewhere else. With Rock of Ages, Iron Man 3, and Pain & Gain among the productions that called South Florida home lately, the time to capitalize on the Hollywood momentum is now.

Resist Change in Wynwood

With the sad passing of Tony Goldman this year, Wynwood's left without its champion -- and we've already heard rumors of rents being raised on area galleries and investors buying up buildings without, let's say, the artsiest of intentions. It would be impossible to stave off gentrification altogether, of course, but it's also worth proceeding with caution in the interest of thoughtful development. As the nearby Design District transforms into a Lincoln Road-style pedestrian mall, Wynwood's community leaders should resolve to stay weird and cheap(ish) for as long as possible -- at least until Miami develops a new arts playground.

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