If you've lived through the demise of Grand Central, Vagabond, the Stage, and other live music venues, you know Miami needs the Rhythm Foundation.
This Saturday night, the Rhythm Foundation will celebrate its 30th anniversary, and in true Miami fashion, it's throwing a birthday bash in the Gleason Room at the Fillmore Miami Beach. The fundraiser aims to raise $30,000 to continue the foundation's efforts to bring world music to South Florida. The party will include a live performance by multi-instrumentalist Marco Benevento, along with guest speakers and DJ Benton.
The Rhythm Foundation has been a staple in the community and a pillar of art, culture, and talent. Bianca Moura, the foundation's executive director, has been involved with the organization since 2006 and seen it go through many changes. She says celebrating 30 years is a big deal.
"The Rhythm Foundation is known for its exquisite world music concerts, but right after I joined, I've seen amazing feats develop and grow. Big Night in Little Haiti and Axis of Love events exemplified the Rhythm Foundation and how they kept wowing the South Florida audience with emerging artists," Moura says. "All these things go beyond presenting world music artists. There is a bigger meaning and bigger story behind it."
A major component of the organization's commitment to the community is its free events and concerts. Moura says it's essential for them to continue making music and art a celebration accessible to all.
"When you do something for a passion like this foundation James and Laura Quinlan created, it's about raising awareness of the diverse musical expressions of our world, but if you're not creating increasing access, then you're limiting," Moura says. "It's funny, because people comment whenever they may see a price increase because they're used to our shows being free or very accessible. People don't understand there are high fees, and production costs are high, and we need to compensate for the tickets prices."
Finances continue to be a challenge, but Moura says with the support of the city and partners, the foundation has kept thriving. They hope the public continues to spread the word of the work they're doing and attend shows. Recently, they received funding from the City of Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council for a free three-part opera series at the North Beach Bandshell.
The foundation has also partnered with Miami International Airport for exhibits by the official Rhythm Foundation photographer, Luis Olazabal. The current images throughout Concourse D will be on display until October. Moura says it's a way to show visitors and Miamians the work that takes place in their hometown and represent the local talent.
"I can't feel anything but immense pride for the vision and the devotion the Quinlans had for the Rhythm Foundation. There are so many facets that I find admirable that the Rhythm Foundation has been able to do all these years as a grassroots organization and maintain alive, and I look forward to the next 30."
Rhythm Foundation 30th-Anniversary Fundraiser. 6 p.m. Saturday, May 19, in the Gleason Room at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7300; fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost $125 via rhythmfoundation.com.