Memorial Day Weekend 2018: Concert Planned

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Memorial Day Weekend 2018: Concert Planned:

Commission approves funds to "incubate" concert

As part of the City’s efforts to embrace Memorial Day Weekend activities and enhance the experience by sanctioning and curating events, Miami Beach Commissioners this week approved $250,000 in one-time funding to “incubate” a concert to be produced by the organizers of the Air and Sea Show.
The vote came after the Show’s producer, Mickey Markoff, announced that Hyundai would once again be the main sponsor. Markoff also said DJ Irie agreed to be the concert’s host.
City Manager Jimmy Morales said he informed Markoff that “Based on problems we’ve had with other events, this is reimbursement only after the event” to protect the City if the concert doesn’t happen for some reason “and he’s fine with that approach”. Mayor Dan Gelber wanted to ensure the City “has control” over the event given it would be paid for by taxpayers, at least for this year.
The concert had always been “a stretch goal” for the weekend, noted Commissioner John Alemán who said a number of Ocean Drive businesses told her they would be happy to pitch in to make it happen.
Commissioner Ricky Arriola who heads the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Memorial Day Weekend said the committee is working with City Staff to come up with additional programming for the weekend including the potential of a free Sunday gospel concert, book readings, discussions around race relations and unity issues, art installations, and a food component.
Eva Silverstein said the idea is to have a list of “sanctioned activities with a booklet so visitors know where to go and what to do”. One of the thoughts raised by the Blue Ribbon Panel at its first meeting was that visitors had a lot of time on their hands with nowhere to go during the weekend and curating a set of activities could engage attendees on a creative, cultural, and intellectual level.

For nearly twenty years, South Beach has been home to Urban Beach Week, a five day hip-hop festival that is not officially sanctioned by the City. The event, which has grown organically, now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors for concerts and parties at private locations that do not require City permits. Violence and arrests had declined in the years following a police involved shooting in 2011 and, for the most part, the 2017 weekend was calm until a shooting on Sunday night near the end of the holiday weekend in which two men were killed during a dispute over a parking space.
Arriola said, “Really the aspirational goal of this weekend … is that’s it an inclusive, welcoming weekend.” In addition to the concert, Arriola is hoping to encourage other events to be held at private locations throughout the City such as local hotels.
Because the City’s police force is already at capacity during the weekend, Miami Beach Tourism, Culture and Economic Development Director Eva Silverstein said these additional events would need to be held on private property and, if necessary, private security guards could be hired. She suggested events such as athlete meet and greets, a fashion experience or poetry slam as examples. Any such activities would have to receive curatorial approval by the Blue Ribbon Panel. Silverstein noted there is normally a moratorium on special event permits during the Memorial Day Weekend given the capacity of the Police Department but asked for Commission approval to allow the City Manager to grant up to a dozen special event permits on hotel properties.
Arriola noted these complementary events are just as important as the large concert, “because it really sends a signal to the community to our commitment to making this a well rounded weekend”.
He added, “This to me is a springboard for future years in which we have much more aspirational goals about making this a weekend that really signifies to the entire nation and anyone who’s paying attention that Miami Beach is an inclusive community, that we really want to take this weekend up to the next level.” Eventually, he envisions programming that will include thought leaders and business leaders who will speak to issues such as race relations and starting businesses, faith-based programming, art installations, and other food and cultural programs. “That’s the direction we want to go, but this year given the short amount of time that we have, we’re going to take baby steps but it’s important we do something,” he said.
Photo (Memorial Day Weekend, 2017): Felix Mizioznikov /

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