Michael Springer,Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, testified to Congress yesterday: Springer Testimony
"I want to offer a short story about just one of our many outstanding arts organizations – Miami City Ballet.
Each season, this 23-year old company employs hundreds of people – not just the more than fifty full-time
dancers who have established Miami City Ballet as one of the nation’s great dance companies, but also
company administrators, accountants, carpenters, stagehands, seamstresses, teachers and physical therapists.
Two months ago, Miami City Ballet made its triumphal appearance at City Center in New York City. The
New York Times raved about the performances saying, “this is as good an advertisement for its home city as
any ballet company in America.” Less than two weeks later, back in Miami, the Ballet announced that due to
the worsening economy, it was laying off 8 dancers and reducing its budget next season by more than 25%.
There are more layoffs likely to come.
I could have told this story from a “human interest” perspective of dancers who have trained a lifetime and
have mortgages and car payments to make. Or I could have talked about the legendary Edward Villella, the
company’s artistic director, who has put his heart and soul into building this company. This would have been
a shameless attempt to pull on your heartstrings; but that is not the point of my testimony today. Instead, this
story points out that our cultural sector is a major player in promoting Miami’s new image for business and
tourism. It also demonstrates that the non-profit arts industry, as an employer, is an integral part of our local
economy. And it underscores the fact that arts organizations are subject to the very same forces affecting
America’s and the world’s economic viability. The results – job loss and downsizing - are jeopardizing our ability to employ people and sustain this cultural segment of the economy. "