​Culture Shock Miami: Celebrating a Decade of $5 Cultural Shows for Millennials

Written By Josie Gulliksen
October 22, 2015 at 1:49 PM

​Culture Shock Miami: Celebrating a Decade of $5 Cultural Shows for Millennials

Attracting millennials to attend arts performances in Miami-Dade County is no easy feat, but one that Culture Shock Miami has been promoting for the last 10 years with unbeatable deals for young adults in high school and college.

Modeled after the successful High Five program in New York, the Knight Foundation approached the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs about implementing a similar program in the Magic City.

“They thought we would be a great organization to start the program due to our work with the venues and would make a good central point to start the program,” said Christina Tassy, project administrator at the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs.

With $125,000 from the Knight Foundation and a matched amount from Cultural Affairs, High Five Miami was launched and after one year the name was changed to Culture Shock Miami.

“We put together focus groups, which revealed that teens didn’t know where to find arts info in Miami, they didn’t know where to start looking,” said Tassy. “The Culture Shock Miami program Website consolidates the info for them and makes it a one stop shop. That’s just one benefit.”

Feeling a need to cultivate the arts audiences of the future, and knowing teens are now making their own entertainment decisions, the $5 tickets have become the perfect vehicle for sustaining and growing a younger audience to maintain the arts audiences growing and thriving. And because the program is for 13 to 22 year olds, and knowing some of that demographic can’t drive, an additional $5 ticket is offered to a guest.

The program has evolved from having 40-50 organizations involved at the beginning to that number doubling in the last 10 years. Although it took some time to convince the arts groups to relinquish their tickets for $5, they realized that in 10 years the younger audiences are the ones that will be attending their shows.



“As the years went by they began to understand and now realize this is a marketing investment. And in just a couple of years we noticed they began sending in their ticket offers at the beginning of their season, even before we approached them,” she said.

The challenge now is because of increased awareness of the program and the demand, getting more tickets has been somewhat of an issue, especially for the high profile arts groups and events like the Miami City Ballet and Art Basel.

Eventually Culture Shock Miami began pursuing and booking artists to present their own programs during the active cultural season. In 2013 they presented Street Beat as a way to keep the momentum going with students during the slower summer months. Prior to this solo-produced show, they co-presented shows with the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

“Those performances at South Miami-Dade were extremely well received, which led us to present our own shows. We now tend to follow the SMDCAC model and we also present outreach events to the community,” Tassy said. “We try to present free school shows with the assistance of Dade County Public Schools where the artists also present a workshop prior to the performance.”

Videos are also a large component of Culture Shock Miami and are produced by Stephen Belth through his Arts Marketing Network. Realizing students wanted to know more about the shows and also needing a visual component, the videos help fulfill that need.

“Because they are interviews that Stephen does with the students, they also provide great feedback on their experience as well as serving as a marketing tool. They are up on our YouTube channel and Facebook page making them our social media campaign as well.”

With 10 years of success behind them, the future looks bright, with yet more additional Culture Shock Miami shows planned. “We realize there’s definitely a need for this in the community so this is a never-ending mission to service as many students as possible. My goal is to structure our presentation with a mission and a focus,” she said.

The idea for the coming years is finding pieces that lead to issues that are relevant and address social issues, politics and war. “Those are the types I’d like to bring back to Miami so the shows are both entertaining and educational for them.”



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