A Cultural Institution

The appointment is for those who have a commitment to the humanities and arts, which Arriola certainly does. Under his watch, the Adrienne Arsht Center—the country’s third largest performing arts center—balanced its budget, paid off its bank debt seven years early, and helped revitalize the neighborhood in which it is a centerpiece. Arriola, who is just as likely to be seen enjoying a symphony at the Arsht Center as he is to be seen rocking out backstage during a Marley Brothers performance, spoke with Haute Living about the role of the center and the impact of Art Basel.

Haute Living How long have you been with the Adrienne Arsht Center, and how did you become involved?
Ricky Arriola I am going into my third year as chairman, and I’ve been with the center for six years. At that time, it was a newly formed institution in town and I wanted to get involved in the early stages and help provide direction for the center so that it could fulfill the aspirations of the community.

HL What does your role as chairman entail?
RA I basically chair all of our board meetings, provide leadership at the board level, help our CEO in whatever capacity he needs, make sure that the center has good stewardship, good governance policies, good oversight—traditional board chair responsibilities.

HL There were some budgeting issues when the institution was known as the Carnival Center. When you came on as chairman, you managed to turn it around, balance the budget, and pay off the loan way ahead of the deadline. How did you do so?
RA A number of things happened. One, the incredible generosity of Adrienne Arsht helped to solve a lot of the financial issues that we had at the time. Since then, we have continued fundraising and continued growing our audience. Ticket sales, fundraising, and keeping a tight control on our expenses has led us to have balanced budgets and surpluses two years in a row. And this year is not going to be any different. I think the foreseeable future is going to be financially very positive.

HL What role does the Adrienne Arsht Center serve in the community?
RA I think we serve multiple purposes; one is that we serve as a town square, a place where our whole community can come together and celebrate things that are occurring. Earlier this year we broadcasted the inauguration of the president; now that we’re in the holiday season, we’ll come together and celebrate.
The other purpose is to celebrate great art, to bring art from around the world and give our community exposure to it. Another important part of our mission here is arts education—to make sure that we’re exposing young children in our community to the arts.