Major construction projects in Broward County prove the arts are here to stay
By Holly Strawbridge
Across the nation, the arts are getting hit hard. NEA grants are on the chopping block (again), music and art programs are being axed by cash-strapped schools and paid attendance at concerts and museums is down.
So what are Broward arts organizations doing to survive? With the help of city governments, planners and foresighted boards of directors, organizations throughout the county are investing serious capital to reinforce their value and expand their public appeal. It's a gutsy move in these tough economic times, but one that promises enormous dividends: By building for the future, they send a clear message that the arts are here to stay.
Young At Art Museum and Broward County Reading Center: Learning through art
Each year for 20 years, Young At Art has provided innovative arts programs to an estimated 100,000 children of every socioeconomic level, including the homeless. Its unique approach to integrating math, science, social studies and language with hands-on art experiences is known for reviving the joy of learning. Families have responded by doubling enrollment in after-school art classes.
To better serve its expanding population, Young At Art has partnered with Broward County to construct a $21 million museum and reading center on State Route 84 at Flamingo Road. The 55,000-square-foot Young At Art Museum will house a permanent art collection, gallery space for traveling and student exhibits, a multimedia computer lab for animation and film work, a darkroom, theater and studios for drawing, painting, printmaking and ceramics. A Teen Center with video games, computers and a recording studio will ensure that Young At Art's 300 teen volunteers and their friends have a creative outlet all their own.
The 10,000-square-foot Broward County Reading Center will provide the staff with the resources they need to integrate art with other subjects.
“When the new Museum and Library open next spring, we will have the facilities to develop the next generation of patrons, advocates and supporters of the arts,” says Executive Director Mindy Shrago.
Museum of Discovery & Science: Making science education fun
South Florida's environment is the theme of the 34,000-square-foot EcoDiscovery Center being built at the Museum of Discovery & Science (MODS). Thanks to four outstanding campaign co-chairs and a supportive board, MODS has raised $25 million in just over three years to build the new wing and to refresh existing exhibits. The EcoDiscovery Center will more than double the exhibit space in the museum.
“This economy has made people and companies look more closely at where their money is going. If they are convinced something has value, they will open their wallets,” says Patrick Flynn, executive vice president of development. “We are so pleased that the business community, government agencies, private foundations and individuals see value in the museum's educational programs in sci