Art Basel more than arts, it’s an investment in Miami’s civic life

This week, Miami welcomes back Art Basel. As one of the foremost art exhibits in the world, for the past 10 years Art Basel has allowed the world a glimpse into our vibrant art scene. As thousands flock to Miami Beach and the Design District to take in our vast cultural offerings, it provides us an opportunity as Miamians to reflect on what it is that these visitors will see.

What they — and the 12 million visitors who come to Miami every year — see is an arts landscape that is exploding all around us in ways that are transforming our skyline and injecting creative energy into the Magic City. From the Adrienne Arsht Center to the South Dade Performing Arts Center and the New World Center, guests to Miami view a cityscape being shaped by architecture that reflects our dynamic and forward-looking nature. Upon closer inspection, these visitors witness an arts scene pulsating throughout our city in places like Wynwood, Little Haiti and Little Havana. Combined, the impact of arts and culture in the physical shape of Miami and in the unique expressions of our “Miaminess” leaves our guests with an unmistakable impression of a bold and exciting place.

But how many Miamians see this Miami — and why does this matter?

As has been documented over and over, Miami ranks poorly when measured against other major metropolitan areas on levels of civic engagement. We don’t vote as much, we don’t volunteer as much and we give less to charity. The Miami Foundation believes that increases in levels of civic engagement are essential to achieve our vision of an economically thriving world-class city. Further, we believe that engagement in the arts can be a key driver in broader civic engagement.

As the Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Community report has demonstrated, the social offerings of a place — its arts scene, sports events and entertainment options — help attach residents to that place. A central factor in this community attachment is pride. Pride in your place — your city — is an important factor in driving feelings of attachment and commitment on the part of the residents.

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About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit