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Miami Art 'Incubator' Fosters Creativity and Community Identity

By Kelly Church

As a self-proclaimed art 'incubator,' the Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC) is a residency program in Miami, FL with 60 artists who are dedicated to actively give back to the community through their artistic talent. The facility, inside an abandoned bakery, is a nonprofit organization for all people in the community, not just artists. With programs that foster professional artists' talent, educate emerging artists and fans, and interact with the public, the BAC works to encourage the development of the art community in Miami.

"The [BAC] is a not-for-profit educational organization created for the purpose of developing and promoting the work of artists in various visual art mediums," Associate Director of Administration Pauly Bonz says. "Our mission to the art community is to enable and encourage creativity through diversity and collaboration. We define an arts incubator as a platform that empowers artists and organizations to implement their entrepreneurship and artistic ideas."

"Maesto's Magic Minstrels", by Dana Donaty48" x 80", acrylic on canvas

The studio residency program is a core piece of the BAC. A jury of artists selects each resident and, if chosen, the resident is offered access to an affordable studio around the clock, opportunities to display their work and meet their fellow artists. Additionally, the BAC offers a scholarship program (which it lists as highly competitive), that allows emerging artists a rare opportunity to work in the studio for free for one year and benefit from other perks that come with being a studio resident.

For the art student, the BAC offers classes in many types of media, special studio visits that are more geared towards those learning an art craft and invitation-only happy hour events at local venues.

BAC's Lucky You! 2015 Event

For the general public, exhibition openings and open studio nights are held once per month at a minimum, usually on the second Friday of the month. These events are opportunities for the community to view different types of art, learn about the craft and meet the artist. In addition to these regularly scheduled evenings, the BAC also hosts group tours; field trips; Family Day for families to explore different types of art hands on; and a community farmer's market with art, fresh food, activities for kids and yoga.

"[Our artists] commit to giving back to the community in some way, whether it be educational programming, Second Friday open studio and exhibition, artist talks or however they wish to give back," Bonz says. "In other words, it's not a matter of saying it- the incubator has to be doing it. As a community, we need to understand that the arts help reveal and enhance the underlying identity of the environment. The identity is reflected through the evolvement of a community over time, embracing a climate of new ideas and visions."

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