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February 2007
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Andrew Patner on Arts and Culture

Critical Thinking, Critical Thinking on Tour: Ft. Lauderdale (Part 2)

We head into downtown Ft. Lauderdale for dinner and tonight’s concert. After decades of ignoring and undoing downtown areas and zones for pedestrian animation, cities throughout Florida are trying both planned and free-market redevelopment of their former city centers. Don tells us that some areas have been so successful in attracting restaurants and nightlife that residents of some high-rise condos near these areas are complaining that the noise level that reaches their balconies is too loud! 😉

The concert at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a chance to renew acquaintance with the legendary concert presenter Judy Drucker and her Concert Association of Florida, Inc. Judy’s is one of the last of the old impresario/a-driven presenters going back to the days of Sol Hurok in New York and the Zelzers and Allied Arts in Chicago. Though now organized as a not-for-profit, after 40 years Judy still runs things with an old-school personal touch with not a little bit of South Florida mixed in, greeting audiences with introductory comments from the stage before each concert, telling anecdotes, and recognizing birthdaying sponsors in the audience and asking them to take a bow. That said, she has been bringing the top artists in the world to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami for four decades and her line-up of performers, ballet companies, master classes and visiting orchestras is the envy of cities throughout the country.

The lobby crowd has more than a smattering of Russian speakers, dress is a blend of Florida casual and Florida “busy.” It is still a bit incongruous to see outdoor box office windows and lines and to be able to step onto open patios during intermission in February!

After the concert we head back home by way of Hollywood (Florida) Boulevard for some gelato. In keeping with some signs and buildings we had seen earlier, the cafe Don takes us to, “Dolce Vita,” is — Romanian! The Romanian Pentecostal Church around the corner lists four services each Sunday and two on Thursday evenings. Clearly Florida continues to attract immigrants and new residents from all across the globe.