Additional Funding Approved for Miami Beach Spring Break 2022

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Additional Funding Approved for Miami Beach Spring Break 2022:

Total allocated now just over $3 million

Seeking to change the narrative of Spring Break from a hard partying event, Miami Beach Commissioners in June approved $2.4 million for programming during the month of March 2022. This week, they added up to another $750,000 for increased talent and production costs driven primarily by COVID delays and “intense competition for dates” after 18 months of scheduling delays.

In a memo to the Mayor and Commissioners, City Manager Alina Hudak wrote that many of the plans for the month-long programming are already confirmed. Miami Beach LIVE!, which is being produced by Tom Bercu Presents, consists of four weekends of programming starting with a Friday night movie, Saturday daytime activations that focus on health and wellness, sports, and family-friendly activities followed by an evening concert and Sunday Dine-Arounds in partnership with the Ocean Drive Association and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“The curation of each weekend is considerate of the recurring Miami Beach visitor, as well as engaging an inclusive and diverse audience with a demographic between 25 and 65 years of age,” Hudak said. 

Talent has been booked for the March 4-6 LGBTQ weekend in partnership with Winter Party and for the March 25-27 Symphonic/Classical/Broadway weekend. Talent for the March 18-20 World/International themed weekend March 18-20 is under contract. 

The difficulty and the need for the additional money, Hudak said, came in booking talent for the March 11-13 Pop Weekend “due to limited talent availability and higher production costs. Availability of talent has decreased due to continued scheduling delays from the last 18 months due to COVID-19 and intense competition for dates. In addition, overall production costs have increased approximately 30% due to staffing shortages and other costs.”

The additional “up to $750,000” will “ensure that the City will be able to book the caliber of talent needed to make the Pop Weekend successful,” according to Hudak’s memo. “This weekend traditionally draws the highest number of visitors in March, so it has the most potential impact for programming. Booking a strong headliner for the Pop Weekend would likely double the demand for tickets and also help improve the chances of securing sponsors to offset costs for the month-long programming.”

Miami Beach CFO John Woodruff told Commissioners the additional funding is available through the Resort Tax Fund as actual revenue collected in September exceeded expectations by $1.2 million.

The original $2.4 million allocated for Spring Break programming included $1.4 million for infrastructure and $1 million for talent acquisition.

Commissioner Michael Góngora gave kudos to the Administration for moving forward early with Spring Break planning which, often, has been left to the last minute and then fallen through in the past, he said. 

Góngora also expressed hope that the programming is “one more step forward” in the City’s efforts to rebrand itself into more of an arts and culture destination. “I personally believe that it’s going to be a good step in bringing a better level of tourism than we usually see in the month of March,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we will be safer. We certainly will be more fun and be offering a lot of interesting and different things for our residents.”

Hudak emphasized a cross-departmental team has been meeting regularly to plan for Spring Break. “The goal is to see the evolution, much like we’ve seen with Memorial Day” and the Air and Sea Show “and really move away from the traditional Spring Break to something that’s different.” She assured Commissioners that everyone “at the highest level of our City” is “very engaged… to make sure this Spring Break is different than in the past.”

Commissioner Ricky Arriola said, he has “high hopes” for the programming.  “It is an experiment,” he said, but one he called “pretty well thought out.”  

“This is an iterative process. We’re going to make mistakes,” Arriola said, adding “If we get this correct – and I have a lot of faith that we will get there – in the short term it costs money, but it will also generate money through [heads in hotel beds] and maybe bring an upscale tourist market, get residents out enjoying our beaches and parks. So it could become a money generator for us and eventually maybe we won’t have to have public subsidies every year. We’ll have big corporate sponsors that want to come in and do this for us.”

Photo: Spring Break 2019, courtesy Miami Beach Police Department

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