New Cultural Arts Center on track for 2011 opening

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Architect’s rendering of the center’s interior

The South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, located at 10950 SW 211 St. in Cutler Bay, after experiencing delays caused by construction mistakes and failed inspections, has corrected those problems and should be nearing completion soon.

Eric Fliss, managing director of the center for the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, is optimistic about the schedule.

“The contractor is hoping for significant completion by late fall to get his temporary certificate of occupancy, then for the next few months he would be working to finish out any of the smaller items, but the major operating functions of the building would be completed by December,” Fliss said. “Then we have some soft opening events scheduled for April and May of next year.”

The soft opening will offer area residents more than just a chance to come see the new facility.

“There’ll be some presentations — some live shows,” Fliss said. “Some samples of what they might expect from our full season. We’ll have a national contemporary dance company; we will have a regional theater company performing, and we will have a show with a spectacular event that is a mix of dance, acrobatics and theater. We will also have a kids festival for children with and without physical challenges where they’ll participate in arts activities.”

Some of the center’s guest artists will be in town and giving workshops to the children while here.

“There’ll be a few things that will give people a feeling of what the building can do, then in October of 2011 will be the grand opening,” Fliss said.

The recent heavy rains are a mixed blessing according to Fliss.

“It’s bad if you’re pouring cement, but we’re also planting trees and this weather has been great for that,” he said. “And like everything else, it’s helping us test the building and make sure the roofs are all water-tight.”

Once completed, the center’s Theater Building will be a 966-seat state-of-the-art performance facility. The separate Activities Building of the center will house informal performances and smaller multipurpose spaces for lectures, classes, or community gatherings.

“Hopefully by January we’ll have our staff here and be able to train them on all the equipment, the lighting and sound and the electronic ticketing,” Fliss said. “In the meantime we continue to reach out to the community, meet with community leaders, educators, citizens, the art league, the Economic Development Council and others to keep them up to date and get them involved in our programming.”

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