Cultural Quarterly Magazine Online

Broward Center’s New Miniaci Arts
Education Center Opens Doors to
Extensive Cultural Opportunities

By Lisa Turano Wojcik

 Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center

Exterior - Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center.

Broward County residents and students interested in the arts are very fortunate. We are lucky because the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) in Fort Lauderdale has one of the nation’s largest arts-in-education programs.

BCPA has been in partnership with the School Board of Broward County for 24 years. It hosts events for more than 125,000 public school students annually. This September, the newly completed addition to BCPA, the Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center, opened at 201 SW 5th Ave. in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The center’s namesake, Rose Miniaci, is known, according to Blacktie South Florida, as "a lady that makes a difference." She and her late husband, Alfred, have been dedicated supporters of children’s educational programming and the arts through the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Foundation since the 1960s. Rose supports art scholarship programs in New York and in Fort Lauderdale, where she resides. She has been a supporting partner with the Broward Center for Performing Arts since its beginning in 1991.

Construction of the new education center started in 2011 as part of an overall $58 million renovation and expansion effort.

The beautiful new state-of-the-art building is a dedicated educational facility. It includes the JM Family Studio Theater; 3,000 square feet of classroom, coaching and office space; and 2,100 square feet of space for rehearsals and recitals. Jan Goodheart, vice president of external affairs, boasts that the center has advanced technology that will enable distance-learning programs to connect its students with artists, locally, nationally and worldwide.

 "I signed the girls up for musical theater because I thought it would be fun, but more important, it would develop their passion for the arts."
 Diana Shapiro, Parent

She says that this will give students who visit the center a unique opportunity to interact with a vast pool of experts. Students from Sheridan Technical Center will also be afforded opportunities to learn from professional mentors and practice their skills in technical theater production in the beautiful blue- and purple-seated, high-tech studio theater.

The Student Enrichment in the Arts program (SEAS) is the result of the collaboration between BCPA and Broward County Schools. Now in its 24th season, the award-winning program presents professional company theater performances in Broward Center’s Amaturo Theater free of charge for students in grades K through 12. Performances are coordinated with the county’s curriculum, Florida state educational standards and the Reading Residency program for economically disadvantaged students.

Thanks to the new Rose Miniaci Arts in Education Center, SEAS has been enhanced. SEAS Plus interactive workshops related to the performances add a new way for students to expand their experience in the arts.

 Rendering of JM Family Studio Theater in the Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center.
Rendering of JM Family Studio Theater in the Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center. Rendering: Wilson Butler Architects
After major construction was completed this summer, Sharon Brooks, director of education, and Jackie Carlson, education coordinator, were able to run a successful summer arts camp.

Doors opened officially for classes on September 8. Tammy Holder, resident teaching artist in music and theater coaching, joyfully welcomed students as they checked in for musical theater classes. The two classes for children and pre-teens run for 10 weeks.

The children will end their session with a performance of Free to Be You and Me. And the pre-teens, together with the teen classes, will culminate this December in a special performance of Willie Wonka. Those students will collaborate in that production with theater professionals.

Diana Shapiro of Sunrise enrolled her daughters, Rachel and Chloe, in this fall’s musical theater youth class. She said, "I signed the girls up for musical theater because I thought it would be fun, but more important, it would develop their passion for the arts." She also hopes it will help her younger daughter, Chloe, to overcome shyness. After experiencing her very first theater class, Rachel said, "It was fun, the teacher was nice, and we learned about acting by playing hide-and-seek."

The talented group of teaching artists at the Miniaci Center are guaranteed to engage students of all ages and skill levels. With a focus on music, theater and dance, their classes are designed to engage, enrich and inspire a passion in students. A selection of baby and toddler classes, including Baby Smarts and Story and Play, are available for parents attending together with their children, ages 3 to 36 months.

 Jan Goodheart, Tammie Holder, Jackie Carlson and Sharon Brooks at the
Jan Goodheart, Tammie Holder, Jackie Carlson and Sharon Brooks at the Rose Miniaci Arts in Education Center.
The same themes are offered for parents and pre-schoolers, ages 3 to 5. For youth, ages 5 to 8, there are classes titled Lullaby of Broadway and Sing! Dance! Act! Pre-teen youth, ages 9 to 12, have performance workshops and mentor programs in addition to the same themes offered to younger children.

Teens, ages 12 to 18, will be able to participate in musical theater dance, musical theater singing and improv classes. The teen Broadway class, led by New York City music director Tammy Holder, will feature special guest artists from the national tours of Annie and Phantom of the Opera.

It will also cover topics such as How to Audition and Technical Theater Skills. There is also an exceptional theater class, unique to BCPA, for students with physical and intellectual disabilities ages 14 to adult.

What’s more, parents don’t need to just drop off their kids and leave. The center offers a great collection of classes for adults in ballroom dancing, improv basics and singing. And for stressed out or fitness conscious folks, there are yoga, pilates and Zumba.

Private lessons are also available for children to adults in voice, piano, acting and dance. The schedule of exciting classes for fall 2014 is available in brochures at the center and online.

Registration can be completed online at
or by calling 954-414-6904.


Broward County Cultural Division
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