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PROTECT THE AFRICAN HERITAGE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER (This is long, but its shorter than the budget document!)

by H. Leigh Toney
Miami Dade County Proposed 2009-10 Budget (as proposed by Mayor Carlos Alvarez):

If you've been watching the news today, Thursday, July 16, 2009, then you heard the highlights of Mayor Alvarez's proposed 2009-10 budget. While there are no doubt many causes for concern in the Mayor's proposed budget, and there are many hearings and public meetings ahead of us in the coming months, I want to call your attention to the proposed budget implications for the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. Mayor Alvarez took umbrage to media questions about the use of county funds to support the Marlins stadium in the wake of these drastic budget proposals, so let me attempt to compare "apples to apples."

The following are excerpts of language taken directly from the Miami Dade County web portal and the 2009-10 budget document which can be found at, http://www.miamidade.gov/budget/. This language taken from the "Proposed Message" and "Volume 2" discuss budget plans for the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center and the South Miami Cultural Arts Center. The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center has a track record of successful programming to its credit having trained performers and artists whose works and talents have reached the heights of Broadway and cultural venues throughout the country; the latter has yet to open. The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center serves our children and helps them to realize their dreams and actualize their talents. I hope you'll find this is something worth taking action to address the potential harm that a reduction in services at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center will portend. If you agree, let Mayor Alvarez, the County Commissioners and the editorial pages of local newspapers hear your vocal and clear support for this cultural treasure in our community.

The Arts and Culture Division oversees the day-to-day operations of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, Raices Hispanic Heritage Cultural Arts Center, the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, the Women’s Park, and the Joseph Caleb Auditorium.
• Provides auditorium rental opportunities for professional and community arts organizations offering performing arts presentations
• Provides a variety of cultural arts programs such as instrumental and choral music, dance, drama, visual arts and puppetry for youth seeking to explore and discover their own interests and talents and gain a deeper appreciation of
artistic forms

AFRICAN HERITAGE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER: As a result of the economic downturn, the Department’s FY 2009-10 Proposed Resource Allocation Plan in the Arts and Culture Division.... and closes the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center will operate as a break even fees and charges basis or grant subsidized ($449,000, four full-time positions); the center will staff only one custodial worker and one Recreation Specialist 1 to handle inquires to use/rent facility for programs and day-to-day oversight in the Arts and Culture Division.

SOUTH MIAMI DADE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER: In FY 2009-10, the Department will continue to manage the construction and development of the 70,000 square-foot South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (Center) ($51.156 million); prepare an operational pro forma and financing plan, complete operating staff build-out and develop governance and management systems for the new Center; improve existing and develop new cultural facilities in neighborhoods throughout Miami-Dade County
• The FY 2009-10 Proposed Resource Allocation Plan includes full staffing for the Center (eight positions, $605,000); the Center construction is expected to be completed during FY 2009-10 and the Department continues the strategy of incorporating the interest earnings accruing in specific cultural facilities projects under the Department's purview
and prioritizing those revenues for allocation toward the construction and operational requirements of the Center; in addition, per Ordinance 97-210, $770,000 in Convention Development Tax has been allocated to the Center for

The South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center Division will operate and manage a 966-seat multidisciplinary center for the performing arts including the Theater, multi-purpose rehearsal and educational space, and an Activities Center.
• Develops and directs operational plans for the Center
• Prepares performance and utilization schedule of the facility
• Monitors and adheres to financial management policies and procedures of the Center


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