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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida businesses have been buzzing about Art Basel coming to town, especially those surrounding the area near the Miami Beach Convention Center where the event is held.
But so far establishments in nearby Lincoln Road say they haven’t seen the traffic like in years past just yet.
“Not like… bam! We’re running around the store. It’ll hit more towards the weekend,” said retail sales manager Vicky Morales.
“I expect more and, no, it didn’t happen but let’s see this weekend,” said Balans restaurant manager Victor Infante.
But since Art Basel first began more than a decade ago, the impact it’s had on art, culture and local businesses is undeniable.
Before Basel, in 2001, this week, more than half of Miami Beach hotel rooms were empty. That changed with Basel the very first year and kept growing. Even during the recession hotels were selling out. And last year the beach reached more than 80 percent occupancy.
For Karla Ferguson, Art Basel has given her the chance to put her Little Haiti art gallery, Yeelen Gallery, on the map.
“It’s instant name recognition. Everyone understands what Art Basel means,” said Ferguson. “When you associate yourself with a major fair like that, a major name, a major brand, then it’s easier for people to understand what you’re doing in your space.”
This year, the first 100 percent Native American Exhibition during Art Basel is being hosted by the Miccosukee Tribe.
The exhibit will feature art work by several Native American artists who are hoping this first year participating in Art Basel will pay off.
“I’m going to grad school right now. My tuition’s $41,000 year. That’s enough said. This helps me get through school,” said artist Tomahawk Greyeyes.
Art Basel opens to the public Thursday through Sunday.
Click here to read more about Art Basel.