Spotlight on: David Devan, General Director & President, Opera Philadelphia

Spotlight on: David Devan, General Director & President, Opera Philadelphia

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read AUGUST 2019 — Philadelphia is characterized by its diversity and rich history, which are reflected in its broad historical and arts and culture offerings, two of the city’s major tourism drivers. Among the organizations responsible for putting the City of Brotherly Love in the national and international spotlights is Opera Philadelphia, which has committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. Its innovative programming and world-class presentations have been recognized in the United States and around the world. In this week’s Spotlight On edition, the general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, David Devan, shares the organization’s latest accomplishments and future projects with Invest: Philadelphia. 

 

What were some highlights for Opera Philadelphia over the last year?

Opera Philadelphia has been exceeding sales goals with shows like last winter’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 2018’s Carmen, and I think we are doing that because we’re attracting a younger demographic. Our Festival O19 is loaded with innovation, which is our norm. We have two world premieres: Denis & Katya, which is about two young teenagers’ interaction with social media at difficult times in their lives, and Let Me Die, which combines death sequences drawn from the canon of tragic opera, along with original narratives and music. We are also doing Opera on the Mall, which broadcasts performances from Opera Philadelphia on Independence Hall, among other events.

 

What impact has Festival O had since it was launched?

Festival O has had a local, national and international impact. Locally, it has animated the city and has enlarged artistic partnerships. We are now working with all sorts of arts organizations as part of the festival. It has also developed a new audience, mostly young. That is the biggest impact; we now have more customers than five years ago. We work with Visit Philadelphia, PHL Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other agencies that promote the city and create local pride. Because we do so much new work, what we are doing is affecting the field of opera nationally in terms of the field celebrating and participating in contemporary art activity. Internationally, we have become recognized as one of the most innovative opera companies in the United States. That is evidenced by our winning the FEDORA-GENERALI Prize for Opera and the important nominations that we receive from the International Opera Awards.

What is the role of arts, and particularly Opera Philadelphia, as an economic driver and job creator for the region? 

Arts in general play a vital role in economic development. They have a wide ripple effect and help brand the city. Tourism is one of the largest economic activities in any city. People travel because of arts and culture, so Opera Philadelphia is trying to celebrate that and become a tastemaker where people come to touch the future of that musical expression. We believe that will have a long-term impact. Over the last three years, we have seen growth in our out-of-town business. We are about to launch a national council because we have many people who live outside Philadelphia and are visiting with the purpose of attending Festival O. We are creating social situations and other arts experiences for our visitors so they can be part of an international community that is coming to experience Philadelphia.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Opera Philadelphia: https://www.operaphila.org/  

Lights, Cameras … Showcasing Miami’s Rich Movie History

Lights, Cameras … Showcasing Miami’s Rich Movie History

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read AUGUST 2019— Miami’s beautiful beaches, art-deco buildings and culturally diverse neighborhoods have been the setting for numerous movies and TV shows over the years. To showcase the city’s history in the film industry, Miami Beach recently launched its “Filmed on the Beach” interactive portal.

The digital film tour webpage features an in-depth look at the movies and shows shot on the island through the years. The portal features maps of South Beach, Mid Beach and North Beach that indicate locations where movies, TV shows and music videos have been shot. 

“We want our residents to better connect to our city’s history as well as inspire future filmmakers to follow in some of the famous footsteps,” Matt Kenny, the city’s director of tourism and culture, stated in a press release. “The interactive tool will be monumental in doing so and reminding individuals why Miami Beach was, and still remains, a cultural icon on the silver screen,” he said. 

Users can explore the locations, types of films and fun facts about each production by scrolling through key points of the city, marked with stars, on the interactive maps. South Beach is the neighborhood with the highest number of productions. This internationally recognized neighborhood has had a total of 32 productions.

In 1964, international attention descended on South Beach with Muhammad Ali’s famous 5th Street Gym and his upset victory over Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Among the 1960s shoots that stand out are The Jackie Gleason Show TV series and the filming of Elvis Presley’s Clambake. In the 1980s, South Beach and Ocean Drive were transformed into magnets for film, advertising, fashion, art and culture with shows such as Miami Vice

Hollywood’s love for South Beach continued with movies such as Scarface, The Birdcage, the Bad Boys trilogy, TV shows such as The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Burn Notice and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and numerous music videos.

 

 

Distinguished by its luxury hotels, Mid Beach has also been the setting for several films. Many of these notable movies took place around the Fontainebleau Miami Hotel, which according to Filmed on the Beach was the favorite hang-out of Frank Sinatra and served as the backdrop for his 1960 television special. The iconic scene of the golden-painted Bond Girl in 1964’s Goldfinger movie and scenes from Scarface and The Bodyguard were also filmed in the Fontainebleau. 

Last but not least, the beautiful North Beach, which is often a place to get away from the noise of South Beach, has attracted many movies and music video producers as well. Among the most iconic films recorded in the area: The Godfather II. The Beatles’ live performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was also shot here. According to Filmed on the Beach website, it is said that the Beatles spent eight days a week in Miami Beach. Bad Boys III, Bay Watch and music videos from the Jonas Brothers and Pitbull are some of the recently recorded productions in the area. 

To maintain this rich history of the local film industry, Miami’s Film Production Grant Program is offering grants for at least nine feature films, music videos, television shows, documentaries, short films and web series who choose to shoot in Miami Beach.  

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Filmed on the Beach:http://www.mbartsandculture.org/filmed-on-the-beach/ 

City of Miami Beach: https://www.miamibeachfl.gov/ 

Miami Beach Arts & Culture: http://www.mbartsandculture.org/ 

Film Production Grant Program: https://filmiamibeach.gosmart.org/ 

Record Numbers Flock to Philly, Again

by Yolanda Rivas

 

2 min read AUGUST 2019 — Greater Philadelphia experienced its ninth straight year of record tourism in 2018. Public and private organizations in the sector are making multiple efforts to elevate tourism to the city and maintain its record-setting pace. 

Enhancements to the city’s historical, cultural and dining options, such as the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the stadiums in South Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art renovations and a number of new hotels on the horizon are some of the examples of improvements to the city’s offerings. 

“We’re working on a partnership to significantly grow our brand globally while also making a further commitment in Philadelphia with a new project that will dramatically enhance the architectural canvas for residential real estate,” Larry Korman, president of luxury extended-stay brand AKA Hotel Residences, told Invest:. 

Philadelphia’s weekend occupancy rate remains in the low- to mid-90%, also record highs, as the city of brotherly love attracts both business and leisure travelers. Local hotels, such as the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown, are committed to highlighting and complementing the communities where they operate through area-inspired decor and modern design.  

“We have locally commissioned art in our hotel, and since we sit on the Avenue of the Arts, our decor is themed with a nod to arts and music. We sourced most of the art and decor from local artisans, vendors and companies to ensure that we are supporting the community in every way possible,” Jerry Rice, General Manager at Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown, said in an interview with Invest:.

To meet the demands of those who want a unique and intimate experience, some local brands are making the transition to boutique hotels. That is the case of former Courtyard by Marriott, which has been reborn as The Notary Hotel. According to the hotel’s general manager, Jim McSwigan, some of the elements of renovation include reimagined rooms, public workspaces for guests, a new shower experience in all rooms and a modern fitness center. 

“We have maintained an element of history with 1920s-inspired decor and furnishings, while introducing a modern feel. We offer the latest and greatest when it comes to providing guests with a great space, not only for business meetings, but for social events, weddings and any type of celebration,” McSwigan said.  

Another main driver for visitors and a key economic developer is the arts sector, and Philadelphia’s world-class music institutions are putting the city in the global spotlight. Such is the case of Opera Philadelphia and its Festival O, for example, which has had a  local, national and international impact. David Devan, general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, pointed out in an interview with Invest: the importance of the festival in creating local, enlarged artistic partnerships and developing a new, mostly young audience. “That is the biggest impact; we now have more customers than five years ago. We work with Visit Philadelphia, PHL Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other agencies that promote the city and create local pride,” he said.

“Because we do so much new work, what we are doing is affecting the field of opera nationally in terms of the field celebrating and participating in contemporary art activity. Internationally, we have become recognized as one of the most innovative opera companies in the United States,” Devan stated.

This year, Philly’s official tourism marketing agency VISIT PHILADELPHIA is focusing on opportunities in the multicultural market, specifically Latinx, LGBTQ and African American audiences. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

AKA Hotel Residences: https://www.stayaka.com/ 

Opera Philadelphia: https://www.operaphila.org/ 

Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown: https://www.choicehotels.com/pennsylvania/philadelphia

The Notary Hotel: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/phlak-the-notary-hotel-autograph 

VISIT PHILADELPHIA: https://www.visitphilly.com/