Haunting photos from the Golden Age of jazz. Reggae and gospel presented in crossover style. Black culture - historical and contemporary. You can find all of that, and more, on the stage and in the gallery of the Miramar Cultural Center ArtsPark in Greater Fort Lauderdale over the next few months.
The stately Mediterranean-themed complex located in Broward County's culturally-dynamic western corridor is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. Veteran actress JoMarie Payton, star the TV series Family Matters, has been named the official cultural ambassador.
The Center is also emerging as an economic hub as restaurants and retail businesses develop in the surrounding area. "This facility has so many components that are vital to Broward County and it has value to bring to the table in terms of its importance to tourism," said Albert Tucker, Vice President, Multicultural Development, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The city of Miramar, at the southernmost tip of the county, has an ethnically-diverse mixture of upscale residents with a strong influence of African American, Latin, and various Caribbean cultures. That vibrancy is drawing an array of national and international artists.
The Grammy -winning a cappella singing sensation Sweet Honey in the Rock appeared recently with newer members of the troupe making their first visit to Greater Fort Lauderdale. The UniverSoul Circus brings its Big Top show and comedy to Broward County in February with future plans to make the Miramar Center ArtsPark an annual stop. The renowned Harlem Gospel choir kicks off Black History Month activities in Broward on Feb. 9.
Crossover reggae legend Maxi Priest and R&B artist Howard Hewitt - former member of Shalimar - joined by Michel'l, perform dates in March, and comedian Marvin Dixon presents today's hottest comedians in a show on June 8.
The touring Southern Circuit Independent Film Festival also continues in March with a screening of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock on March 14. The film focuses on the life of a forgotten and controversial civil rights activist who fought for the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1960s.
Meanwhile, the exhibit, "All That Jazz: Photographs of Jazz Legends," continues through May offering intimate moments with jazz greats of the 20th century in candid close-ups and as they play their hearts out onstage.