Arts Leader Profile: Meet Pati Vargas, Executive Director, Viernes Culturales/Cultural Fridays

Written By Josie Gulliksen
July 20, 2018 at 7:02 PM

Keeping the success machine that is Viernes Culturales/Cultural Fridays, one of Miami’s longest running monthly arts events – it debuted in 2000 — going is a tough job and Pati Vargas has been handling it beautifully for the past eight years.

Vargas however, is no stranger to arts event programming. As owner of Pati Vargas Entertainment, she has spent a bulk of her career in the arts in A&R, promotions and marketing, all key elements in the success of any artist. In her eight years with Viernes, the event has grown to include more local artists in Little Havana’s Calle Ocho each year and every month features live entertainment.

She is the past president of the Greater Miami Festival & Events Association, board member of the United Nations South Florida Women Chapter and named Ford’s Mujer Legendaria Latina.

She recently spoke with Artburst Miami to tell us about her role in Miami’s arts community.

Artburst: Tell us about your path to becoming Executive Director of Viernes Culturales/Cultural Fridays?

Vargas: I was doing Noches Tropicales concert series in Tropical park and Vivian Greer-Digon, a Viernes Culturales board member, recommended me to the board. I was brought in to continue the cultural festival tradition in South Florida and its visitors. The VC board thought my experience in music would enhance the festival. I turned it more to the arts with a touch of world music. My job month after month is to work with the community in all aspects; mentoring, exposing, bringing them together to make the longest running festival in South Florida come alive month after month.

Scene at Viernes Culturales/Cultural Fridays (Photo courtesy of Cultural Fridays)

Artburst: What do you think makes a vibrant community and what role do the arts play? 

Vargas: Arts plays an immense role in the community at large, it fills the soul with peace, fantasy and love…much needed elements in our lives. We need to teach the young visitors to love and embrace arts of all kinds. We have an array of outstanding work here locally.

Artburst: What excites you about Miami?

Vargas: The feel of familiar customs, the smell of tropical foliage, the people who have the courage to bring all their love and passion to showcase and be embraced. I love the fact that we are all from different ethnicities and culture. We make a beautiful South Florida blend that is like no other in the world.

Artburst: What is something awesome you are currently working on?

Vargas: My next baby is the Fifth Annual Cafe con Arte collective exhibit in October. We bring together all the arts; dance, music and visual arts under one roof and celebrate them all collectively. Soon after I start on “Umbrellas of Little Havana,” a three-day art festival embracing and welcoming Art Basel to South Florida. The installation features beautiful hand painted umbrellas by local and international artists.

Artburst: From your perspective, how can we leverage the arts to build a more connected community?​

Vargas: All the entities need to work together, united and the community will embrace all that we will bring to them as they always do!  We must bring all ages together, they will feed knowledge off each other and come together to create something outstanding. The community need is there, the organizations must come together to make it come alive.



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