County Plan For Coconut Grove Playhouse Still Alive
Seeming longer than Eugene O’Neill’s nine-act marathon Strange Interlude, the battle between Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami mayor over the future of the venerable Coconut Grove Playhouse took yet another turn Dec. 23 in the battle that has bounced back and forth.
The Third District Court of Appeals for Florida tossed the fight back to a lower court after siding with the county’s objection to the city mayor’s rejecting the county’s plan to reopen the historic playhouse after demolishing some of it, restoring some of it and building a new structure on the site.
In July, the lower 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion by Miami-Dade County requesting that the judges quash the City of Miami mayor’s rejection of the county’s proposal to rehabilitate the historic site.
That panel did not rule on the merits of the objections raised by the county, but decided unanimously that they did not have jurisdiction in the case, the decision read.
But the county appealed to the higher court and the pre-Christmas ruling contended that the 11th circuit did have jurisdiction. So the path is clear to force the lower court to consider the merits of the county’s complex challenge to the veto by city Mayor Francis Suarez.
The nationally-known Playhouse has been closed since 2006 – its 50th anniversary season — when an estimated $4 million in debts caused its non-profit board to shutter operations. But arts officials, outgoing county Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the county’s lead arts administrator Michael Spring, had been striving for years before that to preserve some kind of theater operation on the site.
Spring released the decision in an email that termed it “great Playhouse news.”
The attorney for the city, Kerri McNulty, did not return a phone call and two emails requesting comment what the city plans to do.
Broward Cultural Division Distributes $2.5 Million in Relief Funding
The Broward Cultural Division, working with local arts leaders, is distributing more than $2.5 million in additional CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economical Security) funding to nonprofit arts organizations in Broward County.
The funding will help preserve jobs and support organizations forced to limit operations due to the pandemic. Grants are being distributed to existing Cultural Division grantees, reimbursing expenses incurred prior to December 9.
In May, Broward Cultural Division also provided $428,000 in financial assistance to 38 Broward-based non-profit cultural organizations affected by the COVID-19 crisis via one-time supplemental grants from its Broward Arts Relief Fund, bringing the Division’s total COVID relief funding to more than $3 million. The funding secured for this initial lifeline was made possible with sales proceeds from the Florida Arts License Plate Program.
“This funding came at a crucial time for not only the organizations and institutions but for the County’s tourism industry as well. The arts and culture sector is an essential component for our community’s public health and for our local economy,” said Mayor Steve Geller. “People look at support for arts and culture as an optional luxury, but it is so much more than that. This significant allocation solidifies the County’s ongoing support of the impact of arts and culture in our community.”
Cultural Division Director Phil Dunlap wrote, “What has been a devastating year for the arts, has also been a time of opportunity as we’ve been able to reexamine the essential role of arts and culture in our community.”
A current list of the County’s reopened arts organizations can be found at ArtsCalendar.com/Reopening.
Kravis Hires New Leader
Terrence W. Dwyer, an experienced administrator of arts venues, will take over the reins of the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach beginning Jan. 11, the facility’s board reported.
Dwyer becomes the center’s chief executive officer, taking over from the venues founding CEO Judith Mitchel who is retiring.
Dwyer has been in New York City for a few months after leaving the leadership post of the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California, after about six months. Before that, he served 13 years through 2019 as president of Orange County’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts in California.
He has also held leadership roles at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Alley Theatre and the Circle Repertory Company.
Dwyer holds an MFA in Theater Management from Yale’s School of Drama, a MA in directing from University of Missouri and his BA from University of Notre Dame. He moves to Palm Beach County with his wife, Amy.
His selection caps a nationwide search that followed Mitchell’s announcement several months ago of her intention to retire.
“I want to be among the first to welcome Terry Dwyer to the Kravis Center. I could not have been happier when I heard the news that Terry would be succeeding me,” said Mitchell. “I have known Terry professionally for many years and watched him achieve great success in a number of performing arts venues. I will rest easy in retirement knowing that the Kravis Center will have excellent leadership not only with Terry but with the amazing senior leadership team he will inherit. I am looking forward to being a very active patron.”
Jeff Stoops, Chairman of the Board of the Kravis Center, said, “When our beloved Judy Mitchell announced her retirement, we knew that her successor would need to be a person with extraordinary vision, experience and ability to lead us into the future, and we found that person in Terry. His accomplishments at the Segerstrom Center during his tenure as CEO were remarkable in an area, Orange County, CA, that shares many similarities with the geographic market served by the Kravis Center. Terry brings not only a history of, but a current passion for, excellence, community engagement, creativity and continuous improvement that has us all very excited and energized. Combining Terry’s leadership with our stellar management team makes for a very bright future for the Kravis Center.”
Dwyer himself wrote, “I am thrilled to be joining the Kravis Center as its new CEO…. The excellence of the Center’s artistic and community programs, and the strength of the organization developed under Judy’s leadership, is widely acknowledged. There is an undeniable hunger in these challenging times for the entertainment, inspiration and community connections provided by those programs. I am excited for the opportunity to help ensure the Kravis Center’s continued artistic success and ever-increasing impact throughout its diverse county.”
“The position at the Kravis Center is a dream job for me and I am very excited about this new role, in a supportive community, at one of the most prominent performing arts centers in the country. Its record of artistic achievement, educational service and community engagement is really superb.”