The old lady needs some help.The historicGusman Center for the Performing Arts
is in a real bind. And it's up to the City of Miami (gasp!) to get it out of the fix. Or maybe it's the City of Miami that put the theater in the bind in the first place.
It's a bit confusing right now, and threatens to get even more convoluted at tonight's first City of Miami budget hearing, 4 to 7 p.m. at Miami City Hall. The city commission will discuss whether to cut the $500,000 in annual funding it gives the theater.
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"It's at a critical point," says Robert Hernandez, vice-chair of the Friends of the Gusman Board of Directors, about the future of the theater that opened in 1926. There's real concern the Gusman won't be able to stay open if the curtain closes on about a third of its operating budget. Hernandez says the group is mobilizing supporters to show up at City Hall--you'll get a free T-shirt if you do--and will present a petition signed by "thousands" of supporters objecting to the discussed funding cut.
"The support the Gusman has gotten from people that don't want to see this happen has been overwhelming," Hernandez says. Whether that will be enough to convince city commissioners is another matter. Mayor Tomas Regalado already said that the money previously earmarked for the Gusman could go to help pay for cops, fireman, or other essential city services.
But that would be a mistake, Hernandez says. "I live in Miami so I know how important public safety is. "But there has to be a balance. You just can't cut all of our funding all of a sudden. It would be like cutting out a jewel of Miami's cultural life." At the very least, Hernandez says the city should compromise and agree to fund part of what it has done in the past and give the theater time to wean itself of the governmental teat.
Sign the petition to keep the City of Miami funding the Gusman Theater and keep tabs on the Friends of Guman's efforts on Facebook.