Seminole Theatre reopens after decades of dormancy.
Pinnacle Venue Services has signed a five-year agreement with the City of Homestead, Fla., to manage the historic and newly-renovated Seminole Theatre.
“This is our first foray into the full facility management,” said Doug Higgons, managing partner of Pinnacle. “Through the process we really got into the community and tried to understand what their vision was for the facility. It’s a balance of being a true community performing arts theater and also a spot for touring artists to come and play in south Florida. Really the goal as we reactivate the theater is to activate downtown Homestead and once again bring life to this great town.”
Pinnacle, which was co-founded by Higgons in November 2014, won the contract through a competitive RFP bid process in the spring, being chosen by a selection committee and then confirmed by city council.
“We liked that the principals have years of experience with much larger organizations,” said Stephen Scott, director of the Community Redevelopment Agency for the City of Homestead and a member of the selection committee that chose Pinnacle. “We’re getting them as a young, new company trying to make its name in the community, but we’re getting the benefit of years of experience behind that. We thought it was a good marriage for a struggling brand new theater trying to establish itself.”
A large part of the process for Pinnacle was, and still is, community involvement and feedback. Likewise, the feedback Scott said he has received from leaders in the community about Pinnacle has been very positive.
“It’s truly a community-supported venture to get it where it is,” said Higgons. “As a company, we’re excited to work with the city to make it come alive.”
Pinnacle will be in charge of all management and operational services for the 500-seat theater, while being supported by Anchor Arts Management out of Miami Beach, Fla., in programming. And after a nationwide search, Pinnacle named Mickey McGuire as the new executive director.
“Mickey was the right fit and the right balance of energy and experience and just brought a real understanding of the arts on a national level to Homestead,” said Higgons. “It’s really going to be a great fit with the community.”
Built in 1921 as a movie theater, Seminole Theatre closed in 1979 after undergoing financial stress and sustaining large amounts of damage when Homestead was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1991. The renovation and reopening process was a long and hard one led by devoted community groups. In May 2014, 64 percent of Homestead voters voted in favor of a $5 million bond referendum to renovate the historic theater as a cultural center, which was followed by the awarding of two state grants that totaled $550,000.
“It was the center of life in Homestead and the downtown area,” said Scott. “Now we’re hoping it’s going to be the catalyst for the revitalization of our downtown area.”
The official opening gala will take place on Dec. 12 with the theater’s first show, A Night on Broadway, which has completely sold out. That night the theater’s first pass season, called the Seminole Theatre Showcase Series, will be also be announced.
“Homestead is a very tight-knit community, and the residents have been waiting a long time for this,” said Scott. “There was something very symbolic about the theater being shuttered, and I think there’s something very symbolic about it opening up again. Especially for the longtime residents who have been excited to have the doors back open. We’re still working on small items and trying to get it completely ready, but we’re opening Saturday night. Nothing is going to stand in the way of that.”
Going forward, Pinnacle is working on a partnership with a Miami Dade College campus just down the street from the theater. The 10,000-student college is the only Miami Dade College campus without a theater, so the opportunity for the school to use the facility for educational and performance purposes is an obvious one. Beyond that, Pinnacle is also working towards programming in its own right as Higgons said they are already busy with bookings and events.
“This is the most exciting time and the most difficult time,” said Scott. “We have all kinds of visions. It’s going to be really fun, but it’s going to be a challenge because Homestead is such a unique community. We are so diverse, so there are a lot of opportunities for different types of theater and performance and an audience for a variety of things. Programming can be extremely varied and extremely diverse and that serves the community.”
Interviewed for this story: Doug Higgons, (757) 323-9380; Stephen Scott, (305) 224-4435