Arts & Business Council Unites Arts & Tech for a MAGICal Morning

Posted By Josie Gulliksen
October 27, 2015 at 1:49 PM

Arts & Business Council Unites Arts & Tech for a MAGICal Morning

Timing their Breakfast With the Arts & Technology Industry with the opening day of the MIA/Animation conference at Miami-Dade College Wolfson’s new Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) was ingenious by the Arts & Business Council of Miami.

The morning kicked off with an Expo Area that was buzzing with a variety of tech companies and arts organizations side by side. Several of Miami’s co-working spaces were represented as was the Miami Book Fair International, Life is Art Fest, Cure8This, Azulle Tech and an interactive door from Our City Thoughts, where attendees shared what they love about Miami.

Etain Connor, board chair of the Arts & Business Council of Miami, said “it’s amazing to see the technology and arts communities together in one room. There is so much opportunity here and it’s exciting to be part of an organization that is steering that dialogue.”

MDC Wolfson Campus President Dr. Jose Vicente opened the morning’s program, exciting the crowd, saying that “Downtown Miami will be completely transformed in the next 18 months.”

Dave Prodger, British Consul General in Miami, spoke about his love of creative industries and how the democratization of technology brings competition. He also stressed that in order to be successful, you need to work in teams of people with complimentary skills and embrace the uncertainties of the future as a way to drive creativity.

As CEO of Miami Innovation District, a live/work/play ecosystem in the heart of Park West/Overtown, Michael Simkins gave a visionary address expressing his astonishment at the city’s transformation, and how we must continue to embrace that Miami is becoming a cultural center of the world. Crediting eMerge Americas and Knight Foundation for creating job opportunities for college graduates, he hopes to attract big tech companies through his Miami Innovation District.

The keynote address by Mary Spio, CEO of Next Galaxy, an entertainment technology company, was heartfelt, moving and honest about her struggles to come to the United States from Africa. She inspired the audience by saying, “when we are intentional about the type of future we want to create, we can achieve it.” She also echoed Simkins’ thoughts about embracing our differences and realizing that today “everyone has access to tools to create the vision of the unknown.”

The always dynamic Derrick N. Ashong, CEO of, a company where fans are rewarded for sharing their music, put it all in perspective that morning: “This is a city of immigrants. What better place to lead the world into the intersection of arts & technology. Miami is one of the most diverse urban hubs on the planet.”


He then introduced a diverse, four-person panel for the morning’s Creative Jam Session. They were:

Jessica Kizorek, CEO of Two Parrot Productions and creator of Techversify, a series on WPBT2

Pru Ashby of London & Partners, the official promotional company for London

Peter Martinez of Refresh Miami, where they host and develop content for the tech and entrepreneurial communities

Lorenzo de Leo of Rokk3labs, a company that partners with entrepreneurs to build and launch exponential organizations

Ashong asked the panelists to share insight into their companies and their role there.

Kizorek said her company is focused on learning to use technology to make you happy, since “technology is impacting our brains and ultimately our happiness.”

De Leo’s company partners with entrepreneurs, teaching them how to connect their vision and then make it happen.

Ashby, whose job it is to connect people, said her skills have helped her to connect arts and tech communities at London & Partners.

At Refresh Miami, Peter Martinez said art is a huge part of how people perceive how they are and what they do.

The group went on to speak about their particular initiatives and experiences with their own companies on how they’re unifying the arts and technology. The overwhelming feeling is that Miami, with its openness, co-working spaces and tech hubs, can be a major player in the future of these two communities intersecting.

Laura Bruney, president & CEO of the Arts & Business Council of Miami, said that “our organization is uniquely positioned to connect Miami-Dade’s cultural innovators and artists with the technology ecosystem that is buzzing with endless possibilities. The Breakfast with the Arts & Technology Industry provides the springboard to ignite the opportunities to accelerate innovation and partnerships between arts and technology entrepreneurs.”

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