MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The National YoungArts Foundation finally has a permanent place to focus on helping emerging artists and musicians achieve their dreams.
The organization, which has fostered stars including Vanessa Williams, found its new home in the iconic Bacardi Tower and Museum complex. The glittery buildings, located along Biscayne Boulevard, were built by the Bacardi family in 1963 after fleeing Communist Cuba.
While the buildings are not even 50 years old, they have already been designated historic.
The buildings have especially great meaning to Facundo Bacardi, chairman of spirits producer Bacardi Limited, now headquartered in Coral Gables.
“Miami has become our adopted home and these buildings…this complex…is our actual home,” said Bacardi.
The spirits producer sold the building to the National YoungArts Foundation for just $10 million. Paul Lehr, executive director of YoungArts, couldn’t be happier with the purchase.
“Bacardi was a savior in all of this. This was valued more than double what we were asked to pay for it,” said Lehr.
Lin Arison, widow of Carnival Cruise Lines Founder Ted Arison, started YoungArts 31 years ago as a way of giving back.
“This was Ted’s vision. He started it. The reason this building and the new world center is because of him,” said Arison.
Carrying on her husband’s vision to encourage young artists, Lin Arison sold paintings to fund the purchase.
“I feel like Monet is inspiring the next generation of artists. So they are being put to good use.”
With this move to Bacardi Tower, the YoungArts program—which has fostered 16,000 students over the years—will finally have a permanent home.
“We think it’s transformational. We are hoping to play a large part in the arts scene in Miami. And we are happy to be in this neighborhood around Wynwood and the Design District and where the Miami Art Museum is going up,” said Lehr.
YoungArts alumni like Ernest Baker of Opalocka are excited about his program having a new home. Baker says the program changed his life.
“I wouldn’t have as much confidence as I do now in what I do now as an artist. Especially with the budget cuts in the public schools and the private schools,” said Baker.
As for the buildings, those involved plan to leave them as is. They plan to enhance their new home, building exhibition areas and a performance hall.
YoungArts will move their administration into the buildings in late October.