BEST PROMOTER OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY - 2004
As any starving artist knows, it is possible to create culture without money. But it's a heck of a lot easier to be creative with money. For the 1000-plus cultural groups in Miami-Dade County and thousands more individual artists, Michael Spring has been a crusader, benefactor, and best friend. The director of the county's Department of Cultural Affairs oversees an annual budget of more than nine million dollars, and he makes sure as much of it as possible sustains the cultural diversity that makes Miami's art scene vibrant. A graduate of Edison High and the University of Miami, Spring has a long-standing commitment to Made-in-Miami culture. A member of the county's arts bureaucracy since 1983, he is a supporter of established institutions, but he's also the go-to guy for new arts initiatives. This enlightened bureaucrat pushes artists and arts presenters to think bigger, to reach new audiences, and welcome other cultures into their work. Spring has spearheaded a major county initiative to maintain and build new arts venues and has structured grants programs that nudge otherwise ethnically isolated groups to present their work in unfamiliar territory. Tango in Overtown? Vodoun dance in Little Havana? Why not!