Culture Shock

Culture Shock Miami Provides Students Easy Access to Arts, Culture

Miami-Dade resident Pippa Milne is sorry to see her sons age and move on to college for reasons beyond just the traditional parental lamentation.

It’s the end of the line for the family’s participation in Culture Shock Miami, Miami-Dade County’s Department of Cultural Affairs student-discount ticketing program.

“I’m sorry they have aged out of it,” Milne said. “The program is fabulous and our whole family has enjoyed it.”

Milne said she thinks her family’s involvement dates back to the program’s inception about six years ago.

“I was at the ballet and saw something about it in the program,” she said. “I thought it was brilliant and we signed up right away. After that, the boys took us to see and do a lot of things.”

CultureShockMiami.com creates an affordable and easily accessible launching pad for Miami’s students ages 13-22 to explore the South Florida arts scene. Tickets normally priced at $50 or more are only $5 via CultureShockMiami.com. The site provides a great portal to Miami-Dade County’s premier cultural events.

Culture Shock Miami was launched when the Knight Foundation approached Miami-Dade County.

With student ID, students can buy two $5 tickets to a variety of events and attractions.

“It’s modeled after a similar program in New York,” said Gerry Landreth, project administrator for Culture Shock Miami. “The Knight Foundation and the county fund the program.”

Administered through the county Department of Cultural Affairs, Culture Shock Miami was developed to address a need of many arts and culture organizations.

“It’s important to grow audiences and the biggest challenge for many is to attract and grow young audiences,” Landreth said. “Many organizations are focused on the audiences of today. Culture Shock Miami enables us to focus on developing the audiences of tomorrow.”

The key to the program is marketing directly to the target audience and eliminating the barrier of cost. Information is disseminated through schools and colleges and to teachers and parents. The website consolidates all information about the program and its offerings and there is even a new iPhone application available from Apple to help keep youths apprised of updates.

The program works simply enough. With student ID, students can buy two $5 tickets to a variety of events and attractions. The second ticket can be used by a parent, guardian, babysitter — anyone.

“We have over 70 organizations that participate regularly,” Landreth said.

Participating groups donate tickets to Culture Shock Miami. Landreth said participants view it as advertising.

“It’s a very big mix of participants, from the Museum of Contemporary Art to Art Basel; lots of music, from jazz to chamber music to some of the more avant-garde productions of Miami Light Project; an eclectic mix of theater, and more,” Landreth said.

Milne said her children’s participation has led to the family enjoying time together at many different types of art and cultural events. She said her sons were raised with an appreciation of the arts and that has been furthered by Culture Shock Miami.

“If children are brought up with that appreciation, then they will have it as adults,” Milne said.

Those who perhaps can’t afford the expense of such cultural exposure also benefit from the program.

Angel Cabrera visited a museum for his first time as an adult and attended his first classical music performance while babysitting his nephew, who acquired tickets through Culture Shock Miami.

“I never would have gone otherwise,” Cabrera said. “I actually really like going.”

Milne said the cost makes art and cultural programs “accessible to everyone.”

“A family of four can go for $20, less than the price of a movie and much more fun,” Milne said.

Landreth said that last year 7,000 people utilized Culture Shock Miami tickets, an increase of 35 percent from the previous year.

“This year we’re on track for a 25 – 35 percent increase as well,” he said.

Through the program, young people can become immersed in or at least aware of arts and culture, which in turn helps institutions build audiences for the future.

“Kids start to understand that the arts is more than dancers in tutus and costume theater pieces like Shakespeare,” Landreth said.

For more information, a complete list of participating organizations, schedules and ticket information: CultureShockMiami

About Michael W Sasser

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