Advocacy For Regional Preservation of Heritage for Economical Stability.
by Wiliiam Coulthard / Edited by Ana Bikic Miami Art Reviews.
A region that relies upon tourism needs an entertainment industry. Historical sites are an integral part of this service orientated economy and the degradation and destruction of cultural interests undermines the formula a region has inherited over the decades and centuries. History is the repeated story that entertains, they are the tourist industry‘s product line and without them a region is no different than any other as a destination.
Although Miami Dade has beaches,National Parks and a pool side party image, most of our visitors are children and the retired if we include resident’s families,snow birds and annual holiday trippers. Their interests are based on more traditional pursuits that require a more intellectual approach to entertainment. Beaches and night clubs, gambling and sports are good for some but to attract an audience appreciation for the arts requires having a strong local history that is more appealing to opera lovers and art collectors, who in turn buy apartments and return each year.
Miami Dade County has an immediate or recent history in comparison to European regions but what interests visitors beyond just the pleasure and joy of visiting is to be entertained, educated and have memorable experiences that can be shared with friends upon returning home. Saving local history plays a vital role when tourists return home, they carry with them the stories behind the places they’ve visited. A region’s history actively stimulates intelligent and curious minds, between natural pleasures of parks and beaches to complete the experience of an exciting and fulfilling trip to their friends. The ancient Romans understood this economic formula providing not just arena entertainment but also galleries of archival history to accompany libraries and monuments. Their tourist cities provided the very best in spas and sports but the most successful cities like Pompey and Pila had preserved and prepared more ancient sites to excite a more affluent and studied clientele.
Miami, Miami Beach and the Miami Dade County, as a whole, must be mindful as it expands to what foot print of the past it wipes away. If an iconic house sitting in full view is the cover picture of an old story related to the region’s past with internationally known cultural references; it follows that the home’s destruction would bring strong negative feed back from previous and possible visitors. If a City is seen not to care about it’s heritage then it is seen not to care about it’s visitor’s experience. So why should they return? or talk well to others? Persuading for a location based on others opinions and published experiences, a reputation by region or location should be seen as a regional and residential responsibility for everyone wishing to live in a successful area and enjoy the benefits that come from an active tourist economy.
The history, architecture and intellectual property of local myths and stories that enrich the visitors experience of our region are vital to the tourism industry as a whole, without them Miami would be boring and predictable. Our local history adds variety to regional destination and encourages opportunities for creating new local attractions. Preservation is therefore a vital part, not an after thought, it is at the heart of our very image and if we are seen to not care what is torn down, our ineptness to protect our own interests will be ridiculed internationally. Currently the Coconut Grove Playhouse and the famous Star Island Mansion are up for destruction.
Now is the time to save them, like Miami did with the Daily News / Freedom Tower 12 years ago. Developers and their investors must realize history has unique and has brand name status and that the stories behind the history are an intellectual property that belongs to all the region’s residents, compromising local stories compromises future potential. Destroying history actually limits future development.
On Wednesday 27th February 2013, the Dade Heritage Trust heard Commissioner Xavier Suarez, aide J.C. Garrido and architect Richard Heisenbottle, the region’s foremost authority on restoration, call for the raising of the Coconut Grove Playhouse to be avoided, offering a plausible solution. To achieve this Governor Rick Scott needs to be inundated with our concern and appreciation for the old Theater and how it’s return as a working stage would stimulate the cultural attraction of the whole Coconut Grove Arts scene and the business district to the strengths of former years. The theater has a rich history and is well-known as a brand name, it has an iconic image that reflects the Grove’s artistic and expressive heritage which would certainly aid the launching of a new working stage for the region as a whole. Miami now attracts many international events all year-long, any theater with mixed programming appealing to a wider audience and offering facility to host events would be able to partner strongly with the neighborhood hotels and residents’ tastes. Performance could be added for the Arts Festival, Comedy nights throughout the year, film openings, corporate and inspirational presentations, conferences, poetry, dance and music recitals, the list of uses a working stage offers to a community is as long as the imagination and creativity the Theater’s director is given. Now that we know the building itself is restore-able and safe, we need a business plan for a modern working stage. The Grove’s theater was the driving force of it’s identity as a location, returning to this formula is a sound investment. Destroying the Playhouse entirely or just as a facade to another empty arcade would be contrary to our community’s real concerns. Private schools and gated communities in the center of the business district are contrary to civic planning and they do not attract visitors to the shops and hotels. Theaters have served communities as focal points, the stage is the forum for debate and idea, politically theaters are important places for common voice and vibrant expression, from them comes the confidence of community and with out them the silence is joyless. Save the Grove Playhouse, save a piece of history and save a chance for more to be made. Call the Governor and tell him this is important to reopen a working stage for Coconut Grove.
Miami Dade Commissioner Suarez phone 305-375-5680 or District7@miamidade.gov
Florida Governor Rick Scott phone 850-488-7146 and at firstname.lastname@example.org
Counter to the current conditions of finance and political issues to solve legal halts; the rich historical heritage associated with the Playhouse is impressive.
Historically it showed film, was restored to stage by famed architect Browning Parker and hosted Black, Jewish and Hispanic artists, from Billie Holiday to the Wizard of Oz.
The stage hosted the premiers of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the musical Fame and many other Broadway hits, providing quality national performances. The Playhouse was a premier stage for Off Broadway and International new plays and shows. In 1982, with the Artistic Director actor-director José Ferrer brought regional programs for actors and Arnold Mittleman continued as AD, expanding to touring companies.
The Coconut Grove Playhouse was commissioned in 1926 by the Peacock Family, the symbol of the Grove still today, the architect, Kiehnel, is Miami’s very best. The land was given from the Munroe family.
The front facade has Rococo neo spanish features, commanding the southern entrance to the Coconut Grove business district, it has it’s own parking, office space and room for two small stages.
Between 1964 and 1965, The Coconut Grove Playhouse was used by The Miami Actors Company.
Among many important artists, most renowned performers, including Maureen Stapleton, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Eve Arden, Tallulah Bankhead, Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, Linda Lavin, Bea Arthur, George C. Scott, Colleen Dewhurst, and Ethel Merman, Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, and Urban Cowboy, Sherry Glaser’s, Family Secrets, Death of a Salesman, starring Hal Holbrook and Elizabeth Franz, actor-director José Ferrer.
In a 2011 Miami Condition report by Ellen Ugiocinni states a $15 million plus matching $5 million had be reserved.
The restoration if done in private hands would match this figure, according to the Architect but double that figure if the City gets involved with the renovation process.
Miami Art Reviews considers the Coconut Grove Playhouse as important to save as the Freedom Tower,the old Daily News Tower , 600 Biscayne Blvd. It has both cultural and historical heritage for the Grove and the region as a whole. MAR calls for a working stage once again for Coconut Grove.
Viva Florida 500 Ponce De Leon 500 Anniversary at Vizcaya Museum Miami Florida.
City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Dr. Joel M. Hoffman Executive Director Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Eduardo J. Padrón, Ph.D. President, Miami Dade College,Raquel Regalado is a lifelong resident of the Miami-Dade County School Board District 6,Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Maria Cristina Barrios Almanzor, Consul General, Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, And The Freedom Tower Miami Muralists 1988 William Mark Coulthard And Ana Bikic.
Miami Beach’s Art Deco weekend events and programming is coordinated through the Miami Design Preservation League.
founded by Barbara Capitman and her colleagues in the mid 70’s. This group rose in defiance to the destruction of Schultz and Weaver towers, famous hotels as many recognized architect’s works were being raised to the ground for parking lots and supermarkets. Great art begins with great architecture and Miami Beach was losing iconic examples by the year. The Miami Design Preservation League’s activities include the Neo Classical and Mid modern as well as the ArtDeco that Miami Beach is again more famous for.
The Welcome Center sits on the sand side of Ocean Drive and hosted the 30’s through 50,s “
Art Deco Fashion Show, Bettie Page Clothing and Traci Lynn Jewelry Iris Chase, resident artist hosting the walkway. The models walked out from the Welcome Center out onto a raised walkway extending over the Center’s steps onto the side walk and crowds between the arts and crafts stalls gathered to watch young ladies twirl in the dresses their mothers and grandmothers wore, some dresses were so stylish they immediately started conversations of favorite films and actresses in the crowd. The models went through three changes, giving opportunity to see again each period hairstyle Iris and her team had obviously enjoyed creating, they completed the dress designs perfectly.