A thriving arts community makes Greater Miami a vibrant, connected and culturally engaging place to live. Earlier this year, The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation at The Miami Foundation established the Pérez CreARTE Grants Program to fund high-performing arts and culture organizations in Miami-Dade and help them scale their impact.

Today, the family foundation announced the inaugural Pérez CreARTE Grants totaling $2 million to 23 local organizations – from a pool of 200+ applicants – across three focus areas: ­artist fellowships and residencies, spaces for creation and arts education and access.

Jorge and Darlene Pérez and their four children partnered with The Miami Foundation to learn more about the community’s needs and identify where their philanthropy through the CreARTE Grants Program could have a measurable impact. Some organizations received grants to scale existing programs with proven models. For example, Arts For Learning/Miami will use its $100,000 grant to bring its preschool arts programs to Head Start classrooms across Miami-Dade County. Others will launch new initiatives. Miami Book Fair at Miami Dade College, which returns to Miami November 17-24, will use its $100,000 grant to start the new Emerging Writers Fellowship, supporting new literary voices. CreARTE Grants will also fund collaborative spaces to create across the city, such as the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City, Opa-locka Community Development Corporation in Opa-locka and Moonlighter Makerspace in Miami Beach.

The family recognized the 23 CreARTE grantees at an event held Tuesday evening at the new El Espacio 23 in Allapattah, which will house an artist residency program and exhibition space.

I spoke with Jorge and Darlene about how they selected the grantees, why investing in scalable efforts matter and what they would like other donors to know about their family’s approach to philanthropy.

The Pérez CreARTE Grants Program will support 23 organizations across three focus areas. What kinds of organizations stood out most to your family when selecting the grantees?

Jorge: We’re excited to be supporting all 23 CreARTE grantees, including some organizations we’ve partnered with in the past, such as the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Arts for Learning/Miami, Miami Music Project, Miami New Drama, Nu Deco Ensemble, Oolite Arts and The Fountainhead Residency. This grant process has enabled us to learn about exciting new initiatives that strong cultural organizations like the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center and Bakehouse Art Complex are embarking on. It’s also been inspiring to see the kind of transformational work Guitars Over Guns and Miami City Ballet are doing with youth in our community.

The grantees represent a range of artistic disciplines including dance, film, literature, music and visual arts. How do they reflect the priorities of The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation?

Jorge: Our family foundation is passionate about supporting organizations that are cultivating the Miami arts ecosystem by expanding residents’ access to the arts and making Miami a global hub for artistic excellence across all disciplines. We’re also committed to ensuring students at every level can have hands-on experiences within the arts. The Pérez CreARTE Grants Program has given us the opportunity to accomplish this in an inclusive way.

Talk about how you will measure the impact of the organizations’ initiatives.

Darlene: To us, it is very important to understand the impact of our investments as well as work closely with our partner organizations to ensure our collective success. In collaboration with The Miami Foundation, an external evaluator and our grantees, we will develop a framework for measuring outcomes very specific to CreARTE. This process will also be incredibly helpful as we seek to improve the program and build the capacity of our grantees.

This is the inaugural year for the Pérez CreARTE Grants Program. What is your vision for the impact of your family’s philanthropy on the arts in Miami?

Jorge: Our vision is to make Miami a place where everyone can immerse themselves in the arts regardless of their circumstances or background. We also want local, national and international artists to flourish here.

What would you like other donors to know about your family’s approach to philanthropy?

Darlene: Our family has been long-time supporters of numerous organizations in our community, including the Pérez Art Museum Miami and my alma mater, Florida International University. When we commit to a cause, we do it whole-heartedly. We create deep and meaningful relationships with each of the organizations we support. By partnering with The Miami Foundation, we’ve been able to leverage their expertise and deep knowledge of the pressing issues in our community to elevate our philanthropic work.

See the full list of Pérez CreARTE grantees and descriptions of their work.

Jessica Rodriguez is a journalist reporting on culture, diversity and issues.

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