Mayor Frank Ortis (D - Pembroke Pines, FL)
In 2005, after 12 years of producing excellent musical theater, financial disaster struck the Pembroke Pines Theater of Performing Arts in the form of Hurricane Wilma. Having just expanded by opening a black box theater, Pembroke Pines Theater had invested tens of thousands of dollars in the opening production only to sell very few tickets due to the storm. It appeared that the theater was about to close when newly elected Mayor Ortis came to the rescue by helping to solidify the support of the city commission and recruit new corporate donors. With this infusion of new energy and public and private dollars, the theater was able to regroup and seven years later, is thriving.
In addition to his support of the theater, Mayor Ortis has been instrumental in the establishment of other arts resources in the city. Completed in 2010 with nearly $1 million in city funds, Studio 18 serves the community by offering art classes and showcasing contemporary art. This 11,000-square-foot creative reuse facility was transformed from a dilapidated state hospital laundry facility into an inviting arts center for both artists and residents of the city.
In the arena of public art, the city's new 9/11 Memorial is located in City Center. It features four steel sculptures by artist Felix Gonzalez, a retired Miami-Dade County firefighter. The memorial was funded in part by private donations to a 9/11 memorial fund, established by the mayor and city commission. Each year, the city underwrites nine free outdoor jazz performances that feature local jazz musicians. The city also hosts the Pembroke Pines Arts Festival, now in its 15th year. This annual outdoor arts celebration features the work of nearly 100 artists and attracts more than 15,000 visitors over a two-day period.