Wednesday June 6, 2007

Trouble at the Concert Association of Florida

Judy Drucker photo by Darryl Strawser Judy Drucker started the Concert Association of Florida, and has been its leader for the last forty years. Until last week, that is, when she was forced out by the board of the organization.

Now, Drucker is a phenomenon. In 2003, the SunPost said, “Drucker virtually created the vibrant performing arts cultural scene in South Florida over which she reigns as supreme and indispensable diva.” But the Concert Association has a deficit that from the sound of the article is approaching $3 million. Drucker is described as “feisty,” which many who have worked with her translate to mean “difficult,” “obstinate,” and — well, you get the picture. She’ll be replaced by Al Milano, who’s been with the CA less then a year, but she’ll stay on as an adviser, so I don’t think this will really tarnish her reputation.

The bigger question is what this portends for Miami’s future. There are two ways to read the events. It’s possible that Drucker simply made some mistakes, and with someone else keeping an eye on the books everything will level itself back out. A more ominous possibility is that if Drucker couldn’t make it work, maybe nobody can. Remember that a chief justification for building the Carnival Center was six major performing arts organizations that needed a home. Well, the Florida Philharmonic folded before the center was even completed, and now we’re down to four. The Herald article lists the increased “rental costs and other service fees” at the Carnival Center as one of the main reasons for the Concert Association’s troubles. Remember the tense negotiations early last year between these organizations and the center? What if the center just pushed too hard, and the fees are such that, especially after a little miscounting, they end up sinking the Concert Association?

It’s just possible that Drucker couldn’t make it work because nobody can make it work. And if the CA folds, it’s just going to make life that much worse for the Carnival Center. Heck, it’ll make life worse for everybody. I talked this over with Tiffany Hill, who is on the board of directors of the Florida Dance Association and Artistic Director of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (yes: where I work), who helped me think this through. She summed it up this way: “It’s all bad for the cultural scene of South Florida.”

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  1. Carolyn Keating    Wed Jun 13, 04:58 PM #  

    Love your blog. Really on target with so much of what makes living in Miami so, uh, special.

    Two small edits you might want to keep in mind: phenomenon is singular, phenomena is plural. So with Judy Drucker, it should be phenomenon.

    Also: It’s Vizcaya, not Viscaya. (Yes, I’m an editor. Can’t help myself.) Keep up the great work!

  2. alesh    Thu Jun 14, 06:54 AM #  

    Thanks Carolyn, I’ve made the changes. I also slapped around my copy editor, so everything should be fine from here on out ;)

  3. Bart    Sun Jul 15, 12:44 AM #  

    Judy Drucker’s opera offerings were the reason I would drive down to Miami from Tampa. Her association’s concert versions of Norma and Trovatore made me want to come down. I was excited about her original plans to do a Juan Diego Florez concert which is now being done by the Carnival Center itself. The Concert Association is doing away with operatic concerts supposedly, b/c Florida Grand Opera does opera. Well, FGO does not present concerts of arias or big star singers. Judy Drucker did. I am very disappointed that Drucker has been ousted. She was a mover and shaker and presented important concerts and made Miami’s classical scene seem like a world class scene. Now I am afraid it will all go down the tubes. Florida Grand needs to get Voigt again or other stars, or I will rarely drive down for their operas. I would rather fly to the Met or Lyric Opera of Chicago to hear stars than to see up and coming singers at FGO. I know “stars” aren’t always the best singers, but they make the events more exciting to attend. I’ll sit home and listen to recordings if FGO and the Concert Association doesn’t present well known singers in the future.