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Iconic Bacardi complex in Miami to become headquarters for National YoungArts Foundation
Annex Building. Photo: Bacardi Archive.

MIAMI, FL.- Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. (Bacardi USA) announced today that National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) , a non-profit organization, has acquired the iconic landmark Bacardi Tower and Museum building complex in Miami, Florida. In an act of civic and cultural philanthropy, Bacardi has conveyed the property to YoungArts at a significant reduction of its market value, ensuring that an important part of Miami’s architecture, social and cultural fabric will be preserved and honored. Bacardi has always maintained a core philosophy that design, art and architecture reflect a quality of life and the quality of the superior spirits brands produced and marketed by the company.

YoungArts, founded by Lin and Ted Arison in 1981 to identify and assist outstanding emerging young artists ages 15 and up, will convert the buildings into the organization’s first national headquarters; creating a permanent home that will allow YoungArts to carry forward an expansion of activities unprecedented in its history. In order to help with its expansion, YoungArts has named Frank Gehry, Plácido Domingo and Bill T. Jones as Artistic Advisors. As part of this initiative, the organization will produce events year-round in New York City, including performances programmed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, master classes and screenings at The Museum of Modern Art, and performances at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The purchase of the Bacardi campus will allow the organization to begin year-round activities in Miami.

“For nearly 50 years, these buildings have symbolized the pride of both the Bacardi family and company, reflective of their passion for producing fine premium spirits while being engaged with the very best of art and life in Miami and in helping that culture to flourish,” stated Facundo L. Bacardi, a fifth generation family member and Chairman of the Board of Bacardi Limited, as Bacardi USA is part of the group of Bacardi companies. “I have seen the tremendous benefit in promoting the arts and Miami as a cultural hub and couldn’t be more proud to have this organization continue the legacy of community dedication that started inside these buildings in 1963.”

The Biscayne Boulevard complex, including the iconic blue-and-white-tiled and stained-glass buildings, was granted an historic designation by the City of Miami Preservation Board in October 2009.

“The development of this headquarters will benefit young artists across the country and is driven by the dramatic expansion of our programs,” stated Paul T. Lehr, Executive Director of YoungArts. “Moreover, by acquiring the Bacardi campus, we are able to honor and preserve an important part of Miami’s cultural history and plan to make it a thriving arts and cultural center for our community. We thank the Bacardi organization for its extraordinary act of civic-minded generosity.”

Lin Arison added, “As much as our remarkable young artists need space to work, to learn and to present their achievements, they also need surroundings that inspire them. This campus is a place that can make their spirits soar and their ambitions a reality.”

World-renowned architect and YoungArts Artistic Advisor Frank Gehry has been commissioned to design the master plan for the historic Bacardi campus, preserving the iconic features of the blue-and-white-tiled Tower and stained-glass “Jewel Box” buildings, while creating a multidisciplinary arts complex that will include a park with state-of-the-art video projection capabilities and arts programming for the benefit of the community. This adaptive reuse will support YoungArts’ ongoing programmatic expansion and will help the organization increase its service to emerging artists, reaching a greater number of young artists throughout the country, making deeper connections in key regions and working in a broader range of disciplines.

“I have been a mentor to some of the YoungArts students and know what a tremendous impact this organization has on them,” said Frank Gehry. “It’s a privilege to help make a new home for YoungArts, so it can do even more for these wonderful young people.”

In recognition of the significance of the role the campus will play in its expanded activities, YoungArts will add a new discipline—architecture and design—to its existing nine disciplines of cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing. The inaugural program in architecture and design will be initiated with a mentorship opportunity with Gehry for a select group of gifted and aspiring designers centered on the preservation and transformation of the Bacardi complex.

The new YoungArts campus will support existing YoungArts activities such as master classes and forums with renowned arts leaders; multi-disciplinary performances and exhibitions with emerging and established artists associated with YoungArts; and screenings of the Emmynominated HBO program YoungArts MasterClass, featuring YoungArts mentors Edward Albee, Plácido Domingo, Jacques d’Amboise, Olafur Eliasson, Renée Fleming, Frank Gehry, John Guare, Bill T. Jones, Patti LuPone, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Robert Redford, James Rosenquist, Julian Schnabel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kathleen Turner and Liv Ullmann.YoungArts will maintain an entry-level art gallery in the Tower, offering exhibitions with free admission, and will provide space for year-round public programs, strengthening the organization’s ties to its home community in Miami.

“These buildings served Bacardi well for more than 40 years and we’re extremely pleased to have found a committed, locally-based steward who loves these iconic buildings, understands their importance, and will continue to share them with the community,” added Mr. Bacardi. “If we ever had to let go of these buildings, all of us at Bacardi knew we wanted to ensure they would continue to be shared with the South Florida community. The heritage and significance of these buildings will be with Bacardi forever.”

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