The State of the Arts

Last month, for the second consecutive year, the Coral Gables Community Foundation presented The State of the Arts in Coral Gables. The idea of the program, which takes place at the Sanctuary of the Arts, is to assemble the principal Gables-based arts organizations and business and civic leaders to increase audience engagement. This year, the mission was also to share ideas and experiences as the city begins to outline a new Strategic Plan. 

Moderated by Foundation President and CEO Mary Snow, on-stage was a “who’s who” of the Gables cultural world, including Rafi Maldonado-Lopez (Sanctuary of the Arts); Mitch Kaplan (Books & Books); Brenda Moe (Gables Art Cinema); Daniel Perron (Seraphic Fire); Barbara Stein (Actors’ Playhouse); Barry Newport (GableStage); Elvis Fuentes (Coral Gables Museum); Catherine Cathers (Coral Gables Arts & Culture Specialist); Ray Corral (Corral/Cathers art grants); and Vince Lago (Coral Gables mayor and arts supporter). Below are some of their comments: 

State of the Arts

MALDONADO-LOPEZ (THE SANCTUARY): “We have an opportunity to build a sustainable [arts community], and sustainability means greater economic impact…. Last year, when we were able to open for resident and partner companies, we brought in over 20,000 people collectively, which is an amazing amount of foot traffic for the city… We [the arts] are a great investment… Nationwide, the impact of sports is $71 billion, while the impact of the arts is $538 billion.”

LAGO (THE CITY): “What I have seen over the last 10 years is the opportunity to bring in arts across the board and see a financial windfall… I have seen the ability to take the art world — culture — and monetize it as an economic driver for our community.” 

NEWPORT (GABLESTAGE): “Coral Gables is a sophisticated, beautiful place filled with very special and very venerable institutions. What makes a community? Pretty high up there is a place for community The State of the Arts dialogue, and that is what each one of us [in the arts] provides…. We create community, [but] it is an expensive endeavor…. We need funding [to produce] the work that you see.” 

KAPLAN (BOOKS & BOOKS): “We have been [here] for four decades, almost in the same place… in talking about legacy and what we’re about, I estimate that we have presented, at Books & Books, close to 10,000 authors… Isaac Singer was the very first one… I am passionate that the work we do, in servicing the community and servicing the literary world, needs to live on.” 

State of the Arts

MOE (THE ART CINEMA): “Our fiscal year just ended, and we are moving up to pre-pandemic numbers, which gives us a lot of hope for the future.… In terms of resources, what we need are partnerships… working together, we are stronger. I know that funders see it, so building on how we can collaborate and share our resources [means] doing more with what each of us has – and understanding that there are enough people for all of us to be successful.” 

CORRAL (ARTS GRANTS): “I am someone with a music background and a partner in MG Studio, which is about 135,000-square-feet of studio space next to Miami International Airport. When I moved to Coral Gables, we started to get involved with the Coral Gables Community Foundation.… Fast forward to the idea that I could offer grants to artists who are evolving in the City of Coral Gables…” 

FUENTES (CORAL GABLES MUSEUM): “This past year, we have been in a very intensive learning curve…. With our 20 exhibitions, we got 34 percent more visitors to the city… Many people come to the museum to attend events, performing arts, talks, etc… [For example,] we launched the first festival of Spanish books for children, and we had 300 visitors from all over Greater Miami…” 

STEIN (ACTORS PLAYHOUSE): “We are so grateful to have resources from [the city], because of its wisdom to partner with us and develop [the Miracle Theatre, which Actors’ Playhouse] needed to be there to develop the downtown…. What we have to offer is so critical. The arts are the heart and soul of humanity.