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Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality: A Joyous Celebration of Culture and Tourism

Written By Taima Hervas
April 14, 2022 at 6:36 PM

More than 150 arts, business, and tourism leaders gathered for Breakfast with the Arts in April 2022. Photo credit: Keith Spurlock Photography. Image courtesy Arts & Business Council

The Arts & Business Council of Miami, in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, hosted its 16th annual Breakfast for the Arts and Hospitality at the InterContinental Miami to a sold-out crowd of over 150 arts, business, and tourism leaders. Seeing a room filled to capacity and hearing the joyous cacophony of happy voices and laughter was inspirational following the challenges of the pandemic. The event brought attendees, panelists, expo exhibitors and VIP guests a newfound appreciation for being back together again to properly celebrate Miami’s art and cultural tourism opportunities.

The Breakfast, hosted at the Intercontinental Hotel Miami, is a mainstay in the cultural business networking calendar. It’s an important opportunity for artists, arts leaders, and hospitality professionals to meet, brainstorm and celebrate with their peers and supporting organizations. Program partners, including the Miami Downtown Development Authority, the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Beacon Council, have spent years making Miami-Dade a financially successful world destination of the arts, cultural tourism, and hospitality.

A lively, interactive Expo welcomed guests to meet dozens of arts and cultural groups enthusiastically leading Miami’s cultural restart, each sharing information on upcoming events and promoting opportunities to engage in and support a myriad of cultural programming. Sponsors supporting the event, and featured organizations in the Expo included Miami Downtown Development Authority, City Theater, Greater Miami Festivals and Events, Area Stage Company and Culture Owl. Innovative interactives and fun were also in great supply with an Imagination Table featuring magnetic poetry words and gratitude notes, the Miami Loves Art Table with fabulous selfie props and the famous 6-foot heart, plus Shakespeare Station and the Biscayne Poet with his famed improvisational poems personalized for lucky attendees.

Members of NSL Dance Ensemble. Photo credit: Keith Spurlock Photography; image courtesy Arts & Business Council.

John Copeland, who leads Cultural Tourism for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, opened the breakfast event by welcoming the NSL Dance Ensemble who performed a series of uplifting, colorfully authentic Haitian folkloric dances. The pop-up performance was a perfect way to kick off our joyful celebration.

Complex times called for a thoughtful moment, and to its great credit, the event provided everyone with an important, emotionally moving experience. Poet Oscar Fuentes rose to the occasion calling upon Poet Diana Pirgaru, who read her harrowing, powerful poem about her brother who is fighting in Ukraine. The audience was mesmerized into a moment of introspection, feeling closer and connecting to each other while allowing the power of art to help people consider and feel the extremes of humanity. Maria Budet, of the Beacon Council, eloquently summarized, “The arts are so vital during difficult times. This moving poem reminds us how the arts can help us understand and memorialize current events.”

The Champion of the Arts award brought the event full circle, as we honored and thanked Bill Talbert for his three-decade career as a hospitality leader and cultural tourism innovator. Laura Bruney, President & CEO of the Arts & Business Council, presented the award highlighting the honoree, “Bill is a true visionary, playing a leading role in the building of many of our cultural institutions. His innovative focus on cultural tourism is one of his major accomplishments. He worked to put Miami on the world map as an art epicenter, helping bring Art Basel to Miami in 2002. This was a major changemaker for the local visual arts community and accelerated the growth of our museums, galleries and empowered local artists.” Talbert is also credited for creating the first Director of Cultural Tourism role in the nation, an executive position focused on enhancing and growing cultural tourism.

Bill Talbert danced his way to the podium, delighted with the award and the event, stating, “I have attended all 16 Breakfast with the Arts and Hospitality events. This memorable program reminds us how essential Miami’s 1.5-billion-dollar cultural community is to tourism and our economy. It’s vital for us to gather and celebrate the value of our collaborations and partnerships.”

A panel of business leaders presenting at the InterContinental Hotel Miami, April 2022. From left: Jonathan Plutzik, Kim Hills, Jane Wooldridge, Rolando Aedo, Marialaura Leslie, and moderator John Copeland. Photo credit: Keith Spurlock Photography; image courtesy Arts & Business Council.

Following the award presentation, a panel of inspiring thought leaders took the stage. Moderator, John Copeland, lead a lively discussion on the achievement of Miami becoming a global capital of tourism with a world class reputation as an arts and cultural destination. Copeland welcomed the speakers to a conversation around the Miami’s arts restart and the comeback of cultural tourism, “Cultural travelers want to enrich their lives with new travel experiences. We have the top art and the top music festivals in the world! The arts bring more than 5 million cultural visitors to our destination – Brand Miami features the arts and our innovative world class cultural community!” said Copeland. Highlights of the panelist’s conversation included an overwhelming thankfulness for coming out of the pandemic and getting back to work together emphasizing the tremendous importance of the arts for hospitality and tourism in Miami.

Rolando Aedo is Chief Operating Officer of the GMCVB, developing the overall brand and marketing strategy for the bureau. He talked about how Miami is one of the top travel destinations in the nation right now and how our tourism industry is roaring back.

Kim Hills is Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at the Miami Downtown Development Authority, leading her team to promote Downtown Miami as the premiere tourist destination and driver of the South Florida economy. Focusing on the organizations recent arts programming she said “we are inspired by our Urban Impact Lab and the Flagler Street Arts Festival, an arts activation downtown in front of the Olympic Theater – free and open to the entire community, which we launched in December. We do activations all year that entertain and energize arts enthusiasts in downtown Miami.”

Marialaura Leslie is Deputy Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, a public arts agency with an annual budget of more than $50 million, dedicated to strengthening the work of arts organizations and artists in Miami-Dade. She stated, “Art is everywhere in Miami-Dade our goal is to activate the arts throughout our community. The cultural community is back providing memorable experiences people have missed the past two years.”

Jonathan Plutzik is owner of The Betsy-South Beach, one of the most acclaimed arts hotels in Florida. They were honored with an Americans for the Arts national business award and named Travel and Leisure’s top-rated resort hotel on Miami Beach. He opened saying, “I was inspired today to be in the presence of the NSL dancers and poet Diana Pirgaru. If her poem about Ukraine doesn’t make you wonder about the power of connection through poetry, then nothing will.” Jonathan shared the importance to the Betsy of creating an immersive and inspiring experience for guests and visitors, “we have hosted thousands of artists through our writers and arts programs. Our community is rich in ways people cannot imagine.”

Jane Wooldridge is Senior Director for Journalism, Sustainability and Partnerships with the Miami Herald and an award-winning arts, business and travel journalist. She shared a number of fascinating insights around the complexity of multimedia storytelling and finding not just a written narrative, but an audience engaging artistic representation. “The Miami Herald is exploring opportunities for partnerships to connect audiences to opportunities” She highlighted the Miami Herald Collection, a new partnership with Oolite Arts, to support local artists.

The panelists all brought their keen focus and extraordinary insights on the importance of the arts for Miami’s tourism and economic success.

Glenn Sampert, General Manager and Gina Genna, Director of Marketing, of the InterContinental Hotel Miami, were thrilled to again host the Breakfast with the Arts and Hospitality. The have proudly partnered with the Arts & Business Council for more than a decade.

Art has always been an integral part of the hotel. The building design included the Spindle, an epic sculpture by Henry Moore, that is the centerpiece of the lobby. Sampert elaborated, “the Intercontinental Miami has always appreciated that Miami is an arts destination, a place known for art. The hotel reflects the uniqueness of Miami on many levels, from the famous eye catching innovative 19-story exterior digital art walls to the multitude of ever changing digital light frames throughout the lobby that showcase art and artists. Each Monday evening, we collaborate with Warehouse 4726 to host Noche de Arte, a platform for local artists to display and sell their work.”

Participants were reluctant to leave as guests enjoyed lingering, connecting, taking photos, and exchanging ideas and contact details. The planners were thankful that they had indeed remembered how to deliver such a successful, large scale, content rich event. Attendees were visibly inspired and joyful, forming new and dynamic partnerships to continue to grow and enrich the synergy between arts and tourism.

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