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By Laura Bruney, Arts & Business Council

In front of a sold-out crowd of almost 150 hospitality executives, arts directors and community leaders at the Intercontinental Miami; the Arts & Business Council’s annual Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality Industry got off to a rousing start. George Neary from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau welcomed participants by exclaiming  “Miami is what the world wants to be.”

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Much of brand “Miami” features the arts and our world class cultural community. Art Basel Miami Beach is well known for attracting cultural tourists. But it is not alone. Music fans from around the world come for Ultra Music Festival, half a million arts lovers come for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, architect buffs visit the New World Center on Miami Beach and take art deco walking tours hosted by Miami Design Preservation League while film enthusiasts flock to the Miami International Film Festival. The dizzying array of performances at the Adrienne Arsht Center, tropical plant connoisseurs at Fairchild Botanical Tropical Garden, historic preservation lovers at Vizcaya and the Deering  Estate, amazing exhibits at local museums, Wynwood Walls and the Design District all attract cultural tourists to our destination. The arts have a billion dollar impact in Miami-Dade.

The Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality Industry is a gathering of arts executives and the general managers and marketing directors from hotels, restaurants and cruise lines to explore opportunities for partnership and profitable alliances.  In a reviving economy these distinct sectors need to work together with a common goal. Cultural tourists are a proven market.  They spend more time at a destination and spend more money while traveling. Miami has much to offer cultural tourists and can easily increase our portion of this lucrative segment. The breakfast, produced by the Arts & Business Council of Miami, focused on profitable partnerships. A featured panel of hospitality executives that have had successful collaborations with the cultural community talked about the development of successful strategies that link the arts and tourism.

Steven Haas is President of City Hall Restaurant and Board Chair of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. He is well known in the hospitality industry for his commitment to Haas-pitality.  He set stage by discussing some of the innovative collaborations the bureau is doing with the arts including Miami Museum Month which provides collaborative promotion and outreach for almost 20 museums, Miami Film Month and new this year – Miami Music Month. He also discussed how he has partnered with artists in all his restaurant ventures. At City Hall, original art includes an 80 ft. long light box mural stretching across one wall created by artist Andrew Reid and a mural by Miami-based artist Michelle Rojas. Their Gospel Brunch every Sunday features local musicians and singers that perform for a packed house.

Deborah Briggs is Vice President of Philanthropy for the Betsy South Beach.  The Betsy is a South Beach hotel with a unique mission to foster community while providing a luxury hotel experience.  Their principal vehicle for building community is programming in arts and culture. Literature is the cornerstone of their arts affiliation with a legacy rooted in the work of the late poet Hyam Plutzik, father of Ms. Briggs.  In the “old days,” The Betsy Ross (and many pre-war hotels) had a Writing Room where guests could find the solitude to record memories. The hotel continues this tradition with their own “Writers Room” that hosts resident artists throughout the year.  From live music in the lobby, to showcase events in the Speakeasy, this historical property is committed to exploring the capacity of the arts to bridge the  past, present, and future. Each room has a small library of poetry and a poetry bookmark is placed on guest pillows each night.

Bill Fuller is Managing Partner of the Barlington Group. They are renovating the historic Tower Hotel in the heart of little Havana which once played host to music legends like Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. He and his partners plan to return the hotel which is steps from the renovated Tower Theatre, Domino Park and Calle Ocho galleries and restaurants to its former glory.  More and more Miami visitors from around the world are seeking out cultural experiences in authentic communities like Little Havana. Overnight guests will add a new dimension to this famed and famous boulevard.

Patrick Hatton is General Manager of The James Royal Palm. This newly opened property has gotten rave reviews for inventive partnerships with arts groups.  Young Arts created the banner that hangs in front of the hotel, and the New World Symphony chose the music that is played in public spaces— selections that fellows from the orchestral academy will perform this season. As part of their relationship with the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, local artist Jorge Pantoja is contributing a permanent installation and will be part of changing art exhibits. In its newest life, the hotel will appeal to guests in part because of the arts focus. It helps them create an identity in the local scene.  In addition to splashy parties partnerships with the local groups include free or reduced-rate hotel rooms as well as cash sponsorships.  New World Symphony assistant vice president of development, Stacey Glassman Mizener, thinks it’s a progressive concept. It really makes them stand out in the community in terms of making an investment in the arts.

Doreen LoCicero is Vice President of Business Development for Crepe Maker. The Café in Coral Gables has an ongoing event each month that is akin to the old 1960s coffee house performance venues. It’s called “Poetry Buffet,” and features a round robin reading and a poetry prompt to inspire participants. The small restaurant is rocking the first Monday of every month as poetry aficionados share dinner, drinks and rhymes. According to Ms. LoCicero the poetry connection has helped separate them from a crowded restaurant field and provides them with great opportunities for visibility in the community.

Aurelia Vasquez is Director of Public Relations and Communications for the InterContinental Miami. On December 6, the renowned downtown landmark illuminated its iconic triangle tower and entry with thousands of LED lights creating Miami’s most electric and visible art installation. In a stunning makeover the hotel has installed Art Walls in the lobby, positioned around the hotel’s $20 million Henry Moore sculpture, The Spindle. The first curated digital exhibit featured three artists as well as sculpture and 3D paintings. The hotel plans to feature artists and art events throughout the year on this new and innovative digital platform. The hotel is selling out regularly and their usual business and downtown clientele love the interactive possibilities.

As our speakers demonstrate there are a lot of inspired and inventive opportunities for arts and business partnerships to evolve and thrive.  The featured hotels and restaurants are not alone in their affection for creativity. During the discussion period more than a dozen participants talked about inventive alliances with the arts and how they make good business sense. Our social media outreach included hundreds of tweets using the event #ABCBreakfast. Many of the tweets exalted the union between the arts and the travel industries and showcased profitable partnerships.  Rave reviews keep rolling in.

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