New Cultural Initiative Will Turn Miami Beach Hotels Into Temporary Art Spaces

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

New Cultural Initiative Will Turn Miami Beach Hotels Into Temporary Art Spaces:

Ten artists, ten hotels, ten days

Miami Beach has announced a new cultural tourism initiative to bring “temporary public art interventions” to ten local hotels for ten days in May. “No Vacancy is a contemporary art happening that celebrates artists, provokes critical discourse, and invites the public to experience Miami Beach’s famed hotels as destination art spaces,” City Manager Jimmy Morales announced to Commissioners.

The program which will be open to the public from May 7-17, 2020 is funded with a total of $150,000 in grants from the Miami Beach Visitors and Convention Authority and the City of Miami Beach’s Cultural Arts Council.

In its inaugural year, the program will award $25,000 in prize money to professional artists – a $5,000 “People’s Choice” award and a $20,000 jury prize.

Miami Beach Director of Culture and Tourism Matt Kenny said the initiative came out of a brainstorming session with Cultural Affairs Manager Brandi Reddick. 

“I looked at my business card and I see ‘Culture’ and I see ‘Tourism’ but not always do they both merge together,” within the City government, Kenny said. He wondered, “What can we do as an administration to bring culture and tourism together? A large part of tourism to us is our hotel properties.”

“I think some of our residents have lost touch with the hotels or lost their desire to engage with our hotels," he said. “They see them as something tourists stay in.” 

Kenny and Reddick came up with the idea of making local hotels temporary art spaces as a means of bringing residents in while also showcasing the City’s cultural side to visitors. “We’re trying to turn this into a really cool, temporary art thing,” Kenny said. He described it as “not as highbrow as Art Basel” though “quality art but bringing it more to the masses.”

“I’d love for our residents to reconnect with our hotels,” he added. “Our hotels are really engaged in culture and I felt that, in the past, we haven’t really nurtured that or known how to bring them into the fold.”

“How do we further extend our reach, get tourists to see us as a cultural destination?" Kenny asked. "If they’re here for a few days they may not go to the Bass” or other cultural spaces. Through No Vacancy they will experience “art in unexpected places,” he said. 

One of the inspirations for No Vacancy came from Kenny’s experience in Toronto co-producing Nuit Blanche, “a large one night only art installation with 50 large-scale works” he said. “It was a significant citywide initiative. I always loved the idea. It turned the most unsuspecting places into temporary art museums.”

Another inspiration, according to Reddick, was Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Art Prize takes over all-public venues, from a laundromat to a hotel to a public park,” she said. “They received in their first year over 500 artist submissions.”

“During the week, the population of the town triples. It’s quite impressive,” Reddick added. Art Prize has juried awards as well as a “People’s Choice” award. 

“Nuit Blanche doesn’t have an award,” Kenny said. The push for No Vacancy to give awards came from the desire to elevate it. “It becomes a legitimate art fair once there’s a juried prize. When you have a jury of successful artists, the art world kind of sees it as a legitimate art happening and that was really important for us to get the legitimacy of that and that our artists were rewarded.”

It also helps with visibility as artists will “tell everyone they know to get out and see it and vote [for the People’s Choice award]," Kenny said.

According to Kenny, the $150,000 for No Vacancy is a starting point. “We’re hoping to make something work this year and then really start to grow it,” he said.

Applications are now being accepted for artists and hotels wishing to participate in the program but hurry! The deadline is February 21.
Here’s what you need to know

Art will be exhibited in up to ten publicly accessible hotels throughout Miami Beach and may be displayed in lobbies, restaurants, lounges, patio areas, and swimming pools.

A curatorial advisory committee, comprised of members of the Miami Beach Visitors and Convention Authority, the City of Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council, and the Art in Public Places Committee, will select a pool of artists as well as the hotel venues.

Artist and Hotel Application Deadline – February 21, 2020
Selection of Finalists/Proposals – March 6, 2020
Design, Fabrication and Installation – March through May 2020
No Vacancy – May 7-17, 2020

Ten selected artists will receive $10,000 to place a work of art in a local hotel and be eligible for the two prizes. 
  • Open to professional artists only. 
  • Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can submit credentials.

“Artists who demonstrate innovative, contemporary and creative approaches in addressing site specific, temporary works of art are encouraged to apply,” Morales wrote in his announcement. “The quality of the work, strength of the concept, design capabilities and established track record of successful project implementation will be considered of highest priority."

Participating hotels will be located within walking distance or easily accessible by the Miami Beach trolley transportation system. 

Eligible hotel venues must:
  • Be located on Miami Beach.
  • Be open and accessible for at least the minimum required hours with free access to the public. Minimum required hours are Monday through Saturday, noon to 9 pm and Sunday, noon through 8 pm.
  • Meet federal, state, and Miami Beach city codes.
  • Have an active BTR.
  • Sign a Hosting Agreement with the artist exhibiting at their hotel.
  • Allow full rights to photograph the artwork and venue during the event to be used for promotion purposes of No Vacancy, City of Miami Beach, Cultural Arts Council, Art in Public Places and Miami Beach Visitors and Convention Authority.
Applications for artists and hotels are available here.


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