Arts Center/Schools Deal Good For Students




I grew up in Manhattan with an artsy-Mom, so I was introduced to Broadway, opera and the symphony at an early age.

For many kids in South Florida, their only chance to see performing arts is in a unique public schools program —  the nationally award-winning Student Enrichment in the Arts Program  (SEAS) run by the Broward Center for Performing Arts.

Since 1991, over 1.5 million students have seen everything from “Sesame Street Live!” to “Step Afrika”.

Students attended the center’s reading programs and summer academies. They’ve learned from some of the world’s best backstage talent — stage designers and electricians to dancers and musicians.

For a handful, this first brush with showbiz blossoms into careers. Many more learn to enrich their lives with the performing arts.

The Broward Center has given all this to children.  Now they want something back.

The Center is asked the School Board this week for $5,750,000 to be paid over 10 years for an elaborate expansion.  The first payment is October 2015.

The deal is an exceptionally good public/private partnership.

Of the roughly $50 million needed for the project, more than half is from private donors.  Rich guys like
H. Wayne Huizenga. Big local companies like AutoNation.  Average folks kicking in $25 extra when they buy tickets.

That adds up to $27 million in private donations.

The rest comes from Broward County ($12 million), Fort Lauderdale ($4.5 million) and the Downtown Development Authority ($1 million).

Now the School Board is being asked to pony up.

For its money, the public schools will see built a new Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center next to the Broward Center as part of the expansion.  Other parts of the project include new seating, enhanced lighting and sound, a novel added club level in the main performing hall complete with a bar, a restaurant on the river and a ballroom.

The education center will include classrooms for thousands of additional students and dozens of new courses being developed in coordination with the schools.

Technology is being installed throughout the Broward Center to enable distance-learning programs to reach every school in the county. It will also connect students and artists locally, nationally and around the globe.

And a new JM Family Studio Theater will easily transform from a lecture or rehearsal hall to a production-ready performance venue for students.

Programs like those offered at the Broward Center are a necessary part of a well-rounded education.  We live in a society where performing arts – whether it be YouTube videos put together in a garage or the philharmonic – are finding new outlets on the Internet.  Our children should be educated to be part of this.

Spending this money is a great deal. The taxpayers are getting the maximum bang-for-the-buck because private money is paying more than half.

Most of all, we need the Broward Center’s innovative arts programs in our schools.

Because tomorrow’s world will not be just reading, writing and math. It will be the arts, too.

We should want our children part of it.

3 Responses to “Arts Center/Schools Deal Good For Students”

  1. Joan F. says:

    This is the only arts given to students in many schools. It is a worthy program. Thank you,Buddy.

  2. Bruce Voelkel says:

    As a former elementary school principal and now as a SEAS volunteer at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, I have been on both sides the the SEAS program. Schools sending students and the BCPA receiving them.
    What a wonderful opportunity to see live theater and experience the Arts. With some school only having a part time music teacher or no music teacher, the SEAS program helps fill in the gaps for those students.

    The teacher’s guides for each productions sent to schools help students learn many academic skills such as sequencing, author’s purpose, predicting outcomes , etc.. What better ways to teach higher level thinking skills than to discuss a play after returning to school.

    The School Board of Broward County needs to stop and think how much more they and especially the children of Broward County have received out to the original contributions made to building the theater 22 years ago back in 1990/1991. Millions for students have come to the BCPA. Now is the time to recommit to
    the students of Broward County and support request for financial assistance and approve the usage agreement with the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

    A Win/Win situation for everyone especially the students of Broward County.

  3. Becky Blackwood says:

    No one has mentioned the amount of money Broward County School District “ponied” up for the original Broward Performing Arts. In fact, the School Board provided a project manager for the project. For the school district’s initial financial input, they were allowed to use the auditorium once a year. Good return, right? Then there is the Hollywood Performing Theater next to Hollywood Central Elementary School that the School Board paid for the original construction, then paid for an addition to increase the concession are and ticket sales area,paid for the maintenance and staff plus all of the equipment repair and replacement for which the City of Hollywood collected all of the ticket and concession sales. For the School Board dollars, the school were allowed to use the auditorium 5% of the time.

    How about the Broward Center for the Performing Arts doing an outreach to Dillard and Hollywood Central for performances that other students in the District could attend, too? Sorry, more money needs to be spent on student improvement. Dillard is a magnet school, has a state of the art performance and dance facility. Why can’t the whole District use it?

    Has everyone forgotten the Dillard Performing Arts program with over 70 million dollars spent for three stages – a small theater, the performing stage and the practicing stage. More than 110 million has been spent at the whole school for replacement. It’s performing arts program, including the jazz orchestra that just won a national competition in New York should be shared, too. No one has mentioned their outstanding art program either.

    Is there an existing partnership program between the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and Hollywood Performing Arts theater and Dillards Performing Arts theater? And what about the other District schools other than attending a performance? By the way, do all of Broward School students see a performance a year or what is the schedule? Value engineering and alternative partnerships and integrated school programs that should be considered in advance of “ponying” up the deficient funding provided by our legislature for public school education.