Six Reasons Miami Deserves Its Own Theatre District

Categories: Culture
Miami's good enough to have a theatre district, too.
See The Most Exciting Shows Coming to the Arsht This Season.

There's no question that Miami has established itself as more than just a vacation town with beautiful people -- it's a beautiful city that captures the hearts of art lovers, ex-pats, natives, celebrities, and hey, even not-easily-impressed New Yorkers. Miami's rapid transformation and ever-evolving urban landscape puts a little extra magic into the Magic City.

However, a deeper look at Miami reveals that it's fallen behind in one particular cultural offering: theatre.

Sure, we have a number of unique and engaging theatres peppered throughout Miami-Dade County. These theaters have demonstrated successful runs supported by a solid, if relatively small, community base. A designated theatre district, however, would help ensure the continued success of a form of entertainment that's underrepresented in South Florida, and earn Miami higher regard compared to other cultural cities. A theater district also brings with it the ability to market and promote shows collectively, rather than every venue fending for itself -- not to mention the twinkling lights of marquees, pizzazz, and (pardon the pun) all that jazz.

As the theatres like GableStage and the Arsht launch the first shows of the 2012-2013 season, I'm giving you six reasons Miami should be home to a theatre district.

Dear Lion King, don't go! Please stay forever.
1. Complementing Miami Culture
Miami is already recognized for having a vibrant culture for the visual arts (think Art Basel), world-class architecture (think Art Deco), and for the last eight years, it's even been recognized as a notable fashion town (think Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim). A theatre district would compliment Miami's growing arts scene and enrich the array of cultural choices within the city. Theatregoers would not only have more large-scale productions to choose from, but Broadway favorites such as The Lion King, Wicked, Mama Mia, and Chicago could settle down for longer runs, making a semi-permanent home in the subtropics. A theatre district would be a healthy contribution to the city's cultural fold.

Heather Sills
New York City's Broadway
2. National Culture Cred
Most big cities across the country have theatre districts to call their own. New York City, Los Angeles, Boston -- hell, even Cleveland has a flourishing performing arts district. (But hey, at least we snagged LeBron). Miami needs to get with the program. We have theaters spread throughout the county in Downtown, Miracle Mile, Miami Beach, and Coconut Grove -- and local, neighborhood theatres have their charms. But imagine if you could visit a thriving performing arts and theatre district where you'd have your choice of shows to see. A place like that would further the cause of establishing Miami as one of the nation's cultural capitals.

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Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

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@Donnie Leandro, Cubans probably know more than you what a theater is.  The only DUMB ASS here that should've left your stupid unessesary and worthless comment is YOU. If your dumb ass misess New York so much, why don't you go back.

And yes, it would be great if we could get our own theater district.  We desreve it.


Awesome @vanemartin4 !!! RT @MiamiNewTimes @MiamiNewTimes: Six Reasons Miami Deserves Its Own Theatre District

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

hahaha..first of all people in miami dont have "culture" like new york does second of all all these stupid cubans dont even know whats a theatre...i miss nyc


Robert Patrick has said that theaters are started by people, not real estate (or words to that effect). Most theater districts emerge organicly in low rent neighborshoods with access to transportation. Most planned theater districts (like Theater Row in NYC) are built around already existing theaters. While the plan to begin with real estate is well intentioned, it probably would not be effective. The performing arts rarely work on standard commercial models because about half their funding is unearned (i.e. grants, donations, etc.) If companies cannot afford to rent the 200-seat theater at the Arsht will they be any likely to be able to afford newly constructed facilities in the same neighborhood?Better support for emerging theaters would come through  direct funding to artists and theater companies rather than construction workers and real estate functionaries.


I could NOT agree more!  Allow me to further elaborate on the validity of this point as a Performance Arts major at the University of Miami:


     In terms of reputation, the Conservatory at the University of Miami has always fallen short of its New England (and beyond) counter-parts like NYUs Tisch School, Carnegie-Mellon, Boston Conservatory, and even many conservatories in the mid-west.  Despite this lack of limelight, we at the University of Miami, with the incredible efforts of our faculty and chair, Henry Fonte, have risen the theatre conservatory at UM into the national spotlight.  

     With illustrious guest artists such as Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Nilo Cruz, and 9-time Tony Award-winner, Tommy Tune, gracing us with their presence in only the past 2 years, we've been able to offer our students a training experience that rivals that of the nation's "top" conservatory programs (and even professional experiences).  And our recent partnership with the Adrienne Arsht center gives students the opportunity to perform on a professional stage to an even larger audience.  Henry Fonte's commitment to producing new works is turning the UMiami Conservatory program into much more than an actor-training program, but a pseudo-professional/educational program preparing students for a life in the professional theatre with illustrious resumes straight out of college.  And where do most of these students go?  Therein lies the problem.

      Personally, I know that most (if not all) of my classmates intend to move far away from Miami.  Be it LA or New York, absolutely no one in this program puts enough faith into the theatre scene of their college's home city.  Even I, a Miami-born native, intend to move to New York once I finish my senior year.  But, Mr. Fonte (a Miamian himself), is trying to change that attitude.  Through his efforts, not only is he putting UMiami's Theatre Program on the map, but, he is also attracting the attention of Miami theatre-goers by offering them a slew of theatrical experiences that range from Spanish-language absurdist plays to Shakespearean tragedy.            Shameless plugs aside, I believe that what this Conservatory is doing for itself represents what can be done for the city as a whole.  We are branching out to theatres like the Arsht's Carnival Studio Theatre.  We are inviting troupes from all over the world to perform on our stage.  And all of this is happening without the illustrious theatre district you write about.  I believe a theatre district is not far from reality.  Not only would it increase tourism for this city and put us on the map as a truly multi-cultural town, but, it would also validate UMiami's Conservatory Program as the professional experience it already is.  And perahps its graduates would have more reason to stay.  

Jeannette Martos
Jeannette Martos

Yes it does!!! I just graduated with a theatre degree and what am I suppose to do with it here in Miami? I hope this article moves things along.



 Bravo!  I couldn't agree more.  It's nice to think grand; but, there's no money (public or private) to build new theatres around the Arsht.  Your comment that theatre districts are organic is spot on.


One of the most successful theatre districts in the country is in Minneapolis.  (Disclosure: I used to work as a fundraiser for the non-profit Hennepin Theatre Trust.)  Over the years, three historic theatres were renovated by the City.  An existing 8-story historic building was converted to be the home for 15+ performing arts companies.  A new flexible performance space is being built in what was vacant retail space.  Aside from all that (which is all within 5 blocks along Hennepin Ave), the Twin Cities supports the Gutherie and the Ordway theatres.


It's fun to something grandiose like a miniature Broadway in Miami.  But, the ugly truth is that South Florida can't support anything like that.

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