Written By Josie Gulliksen
October 10, 2023 at 7:38 PM

Kunya Rowley and Rebecca Fishman Lipsey at artlook Miami launch. Photo courtesy of AJ Shorter Photography.

Arts education is oftentimes the stepchild at public schools, the curriculum that’s always struggling to survive and answering that call are The Miami Foundation and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The two have come together to implement Artlook® Miami.

Artlook® Miami is an online tool that captures, connects, and tracks public school education and opportunities, empowering nonprofits to identify arts gaps, funders to identify critical needs, and parents to search arts programs for their children.

Implementing the program in Miami-Dade is the culmination of more than three years of data collection and grassroots outreach by The Miami Foundation. “Artlook® Miami elevates the importance of arts education by providing the entire arts ecosystem with access to data helping guide decision-making for the betterment of all students,” as stated on the Miami Foundation’s page.

“We have been talking about doing this since 2017,” said Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, president and CEO of The Miami Foundation. “After Philanthropist Daniel R. Lewis, who founded Music Access Miami, spoke to several arts organizations and observed the programs that principals already had in place at their schools, he saw the need for collaboration.”

Philanthropist Daniel R. Lewis, (left), CEO of The Miami Foundation Rebecca Fishman Lipsey (center) and founder of Young Musicians Unite Sammy Gonzalez. Photo courtesy of AJ Shorter Photography.

Dr. Lewis discovered and researched Artlook and he and Lipsey realized what had been accomplished in Chicago after they implemented the site there. “In just a few years, the funding in Chicago became much more robust,” said Lipsey. “We immediately thought, we have to do this in Miami.”

At first, they worked on creating a very small version on their own just using Google Maps but “we quickly realized we needed school-system level data in addition to non-profit data. That’s when we knew we needed Artlook.”

In partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and other partners, Artlook® Miami captures all public school arts programs and partnerships as a means to stimulate arts involvement and create access to funding, ultimately offering all students access to art program offerings throughout the school system.

Carol City High School Marching Band. The Miami Foundation
9-22-2023. Location: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. Photo courtesy of AJ Photography.

The map also “enables a potential partner to better plan what that particular school’s needs are and who that partnership fits. We want every student to have arts access and this is the best way, through these maps,” said Lipsey.

Lipsey has already had conversations with the folks who implemented Artlook in Jacksonville where they have had great success with the system and she also has visited Chicago to learn from them.

“When we look at our Artlook sister cities – Chicago, Jacksonville, Oregon, Houston, Sacramento, Southwestern Pennsylvania, Alabama, Northwest Arkansas and Baltimore – they reached 100% of schools on their maps in the third year while we have more data than those others had within the first year,” said Lipsey. Certainly learning from those sister cities helped Miami reach that goal.

The partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and their support has been invaluable in reaching that goal as well. The Miami Foundation began conversations with them in 2019.

“We worked on this for four years because we wanted to build this efficiently and get it right and that effort takes time,” said Luisa Santos, Miami-Dade County School Board District 9 member in South Miami-Dade.

The School Board District made it a mission to ensure they had the School Superintendent’s full support and that involved data driven communications and collaboration from all stakeholders, according to Santos.

Brandon Cruz, Founder and Director of SFL Center for Percussive Arts. Photo courtesy of AJ Shorter Photography.

“We needed to ensure 100% of our schools were involved and we know from here on out they are ready and willing to provide this data,” Santos said.

They are working closely with Dr. Lewis’s Music Access program to bring resources to District 9 and also with their schools to push in resources and provide those students in South Miami-Dade with “even more opportunities than they may currently have,” said Santos.

That same philosophy goes for Miami-Dade County Public Schools across the community, to drive resources out to those students and “provide them with a plethora of opportunities to shine academically and on stage,” said Santos.

Eddie Garza, CEO of the Mexican American Council who was raised in South Miami-Dade and is a product of public schools knows first hand the untapped potential for meaningful youth arts programs to truly uplift the community.

Miami Carol City High school Marching Band. Photo courtesy of AJ Shorter Photography.

“I am inspired by this announcement and the community partners it brings together. Artlook® Miami will be transformational, creating more opportunities for Miami Dade youth to connect with the arts than ever before,” said Garza.

Knowing this is a bold idea where the logistics alone were challenging, Lipsey is eternally grateful for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools partnership. She hopes this tool becomes valuable on a statewide level and ultimately results in statewide funding to create a strong future for arts education.

Learn about Artlook on their website and go to

Miami Artlook Map page to learn about arts programs and partnerships at Miami-Dade County Public Schools. is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at


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