South Florida Theatre Festival 2007

When we hear about the arts in South Florida, most of us think Art Basel Miami Beach. True that this international major event is a resourceful and media friendly one. Consequently, it has lead us to believe that when we say arts in South Florida, we mean Visual Arts. That may be OK for a Swiss collector but for locals, South Florida Arts mean much more than that. A careful look at art listings in any local media will prove me right. There is a burgeoning art scene in South Florida, and it has been for a long time. Music, Theater, Film and Dance festivals, plus the well known December celebration of the Visual Arts, fill up the 365 days schedule of Miami’s art scene. Theater for instance, is very strong in South Florida. The South Florida Theater League – an alliance of theatrical organizations and professionals dedicated to promoting the growth of the local theatre industry – is celebrating its Second Annual Theatre Festival, in recognition of the continuos work of 52 South Florida based theater companies, among which many already have a history to tell. Their woks and endurance have been now catalyzed in a two-month celebration running from March through May 2007. The festival started with an outstanding kickoff party honoring the local theatrical community and professionals in the field, announcing a plethora of seminars, readings, lectures and related events, as well as free presentations and a stimulating “discounted tickets” program. “All of these producing groups enable members to share resources and ideas and collectively create programs in marketing, audience development and political action which could not be achieved by theatres acting individually” says Andy Rogow , an advisory board member of The South Florida Theater League. “Our primary goal is to continue rising awareness about the quality and quantity of theatre in South Florida and to increase funding sources for a stronger theatrical voice in the region”. No question about it. The Festival initiative, together with SFTL, already enjoys the support of four major sponsors: W-LRN Radio/TV, the Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post and the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council. More importantly, the South Florida Theater League has performed as a joint administrator for the Carbonell Awards since 1994, an independent non for profit organization created in 1976 with the purpose of honoring excellence in theater in South Florida. This year, the 31st Annual Carbonell Awards Ceremony was held for a packed house at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ Amaturo Theatre, recognizing the work of regional theater professionals in more than 20 categories and special awards. Florida Stage’s Cradle of Man was awarded Best New Work and the theatre itself, now in its 20th season devoted to contemporary plays, received the first Bill von Maurer Special Award for Theatrical Excellence – similar in concept to the Tony Awards’ Special Regional Theater citation -. GableStage, with its acclaimed The Pillowman, won Best Production of a Play award among a total of four received, while the play Lend Me a Tenor by Caldwell Theatre Company was named Best Ensemble Production. In the musical category, The Tin Pan Alley Rag, presented by Maltz Jupiter Theatre was named Best Production of a Musical and in the Non-Resident division, representing touring or independent productions, the national tour of Wicked claimed seven out of ten award categories including Best Production, dominating by all means the awards ceremony. The South Florida Theater Festival has topped the local theater scene with the “Spectacle” that is so necessary for truly attracting audiences, and gaining a deserved visibility for the more than 20 years of commitment of regional theater professionals. After many years of knowing about lack of resources and venues, media coverage and governmental support, the organizers of the festival can proudly enjoy the BRAVO of the audiences that have come to celebrate with them the growing success of the event. No question about it. South Florida is gradually consolidating its cultural life.

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