Renderings show plans for an innovative arts center in Mizner Park

A new vision is emerging for the arts in Boca Raton, and what it will look like has been compiled into polished sketches to drum up support for a new performing arts center in Mizner Park.

The idea of ​​the center is that of innovation and science married to art. The accompanying colorful renderings are representations of the creative thinking that inspired the concepts.

The Boca Raton Center for Arts and Innovation would complete the 30-year plan for Mizner Park, building the 110,000 square foot project on the site of the amphitheater. The plan is to integrate technology and cultural design to create a future-oriented attraction for the city and region.

Some of the inspiration comes from the installations that have been installed in Miami, including the Rubell Museum, Superblue and the New World Center. The notion shifts the conversation from a basic performing arts center that encompasses the usual experience of in-person music and dance concerts to one that is appealing to younger audiences, including the use of cutting-edge productions like digital art, LED projections and video walls. .

Andrea Virgin is behind the emergence of the notion of having a state-of-the-art performing arts centre. His journey combines both art and science.

“I come from the performing arts world and am now a civil engineer working in commercial real estate,” she said. “I’m using both of these backgrounds for this project.”

Virgin grew up in Boca Raton. She left the area to dance professionally. Eventually, she returned to South Florida to continue her art. After returning home, she decided to get her degree in civil engineering because she realized it was a good career after dancing.

“Once the 2008 recession hit, I decided to trade the spikes for a helmet and started working in commercial real estate,” she said. “I’ve found ways to stimulate creativity in a field that’s typically very black and white unlike my artistic background.”

About seven years ago, Virgin had a life-changing event when she lost her husband. She said she decided to do something impactful because life is short. Virgin said it joined the Boca Valley Theater board, thinking it was a good first step.

“In my first board meeting with them, I suggested that since we’ve been performing in secondary schools for so many years, we should have our own performing arts theatre,” said- she declared. “I suggested to them that I would be happy to take on this project because I know enough about commercial real estate and the performing arts.”

Since Virgin began leading the initiative as chair, the board has grown to 12 members.

“There is such an obvious need for a center like this,” she said. “I never naively realized exactly what that would entail. We kept it simple at the start, with a simple single-use center concept, like the Kravis and Broward centers.

According to Virgin, the Boca Raton Center for Arts and Innovation brought in consultants about a year into the process. The group had experience working on infrastructure around the world. She said they wanted the planning group to take this opportunity to really think ahead to create a performing arts center for the next century.

“The concept shots in the renders are really beautiful and exciting,” Virgin said. “They are also a starting point. They are concept designs intended to evoke a sense of quality, a sense of scale, and a sense of flexibility to ignite people’s imaginations.

The cost of the project was conceptually estimated in early 2020 (pre-pandemic), but is currently being updated due to escalating construction prices as well as progress in the construction process. program development and planning.

Irvin Lippman, executive director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Mizner Park, would be the performing arts center’s future neighbor. His enthusiasm for the project is as much a feeling that Boca deserves a place like the one being proposed, as well as an acknowledgment that the museum he oversees will benefit from greater cultural options nearby.

“The beauty of this project is that the center would not only be a center for arts and culture, but it would also be a center for innovation, which opens up all kinds of possibilities,” he said. “Anything that brings more attention to Mizner Park is very positive. I’ve been in Boca Raton for eight years and I’ve seen how the community has grown.

Lippman points out that a new center would not only be for residents of the town of Boca but also for people from across the region.

“One indicator of who the arts center audience would be is that only 48% of our museum members live in Boca Raton,” he said. “The majority live outside the area, including large numbers in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and surrounding areas. It becomes a kind of urban center and a very pedestrian city. I think having an art center here will greatly improve it.

Lippman promotes that the center makes sense as a neighbor of the museum, as it has recently been modernized with improvements to its own facilities.

“Not only can the center happen, but I believe it can happen in a beautiful way,” he said. “The new center will help better define Boca Raton, just as the museum defines this northern part of Mizner Park. I also think the center will support the city as an entertainment center. By bringing the arts center and the museum together, I think you could kind of create a connection between this conversation about the arts. »

Virgin said this type of center is focused on the future of arts and entertainment. Part of this approach is to attract younger attendees who might not frequent a more traditional venue.

“Traditional performing arts centers are often only used for one purpose, but then you miss out on a lot more activity that might be happening,” she said. “It is important to think of the arts differently, because the expectations of today’s audiences and the needs of tomorrow’s artists are very different.

Virgin said a century ago the only form of entertainment was live. She said that now traditional arts centers are competing with Netflix and Hulu.

“We need to think about ways that are experiential and use multimedia,” she said. “The new center will have to use these means to attract audiences, as the traditional of performing arts centers is shrinking. We still need to be able to have a place where traditional art forms thrive, but we also need to allow artists to think about whatever they seek to create in new and different ways.

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Virgin outlined a storyline for how productions would focus going forward.

“We’d like to have digital exhibits for people to enjoy, whether or not they’re there to buy a ticket, just to allow them to be immersed in art in a way that’s technologically advanced and accessible to the public,” says -she. “We could allow a traditional programming experience to happen in the main hall for people looking to dress up for the event, but we could project that outside for thousands more, who knock on the point of accessibility and technology.”

Virgin explained how the center would be a place of artistic and scientific innovation.

“The new center would be a place for research and development,” she said. “The art of tomorrow can be created by artists to create this kind of intersection of art and technology. We want to help them innovate and think about the art of the future.

The center also aims to provide space for K-12 opportunities such as access to performances, during and after school programs, workshops for all ages, artist/tech in residence, internship opportunities , lecture series on the art and ideas of tomorrow.

The next big step is the execution of the ground lease with the City of Boca Raton (for a total lease term of 94 years). The signing of this document, expected at the end of August, will provide the necessary support to mobilize major philanthropic support for the project.