Dear friends of the Tower Theater:
By now, you may have heard the news that the City of Miami has declined to renew Miami Dade College’s management agreement of the Tower Theater, which the college has been trying in good faith to renew for the past 20 months. Additionally, the City of Miami has sent a termination letter to MDC which, if not revoked, would end MDC’s operation of the Tower Theater on January 2, 2023.
As friends of the theater, I want to share with you two things that many of you have asked about regarding this matter.
Firstly, the college has not been given any reason for this termination. Miami Dade College has been an exceptional steward of the Tower Theater for two decades. It has invested over $1 million in major capital improvements to every facet of the building, in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in the maintenance and day-to-day operation of the theater. It has never relied on the city for funding and has, on its own, created a vibrant cultural mecca whose economic impact on Little Havana and the City of Miami is estimated at well over $50 million. Over 1.2 million people have walked through Tower Theater’s doors in the time MDC has operated it and in that time they have enjoyed the best in local, national, and international cinema; met face-to-face with internationally renowned directors and actors who have attended screenings; and enjoyed some of the city’s most iconic events including the Miami Film Festival and GEMS.
Secondly, if the city carries through with this termination, it will mean the end of cinema at Tower Theater for the foreseeable future. Through the 40 years of the Film Festival and our 20 years at the Tower Theater, we have built strong relationships with distributors, filmmakers, and sales agents that have allowed us to provide year-round programming. Miami Dade College’s exit will bring an end to cinema in Little Havana and close a cultural powerhouse with no viable plan to replace it with anything.
Many of you have asked us what you can do to help, and we so appreciate your passion and love for MDC’s Tower Theater Miami. What I would say to you, as one citizen who loves the theater to another, is to tell your elected officials, particularly at the City of Miami, how you feel. Please tell them what the Tower Theater under MDC means to the community and how important it is to you that it continues to operate as a world-class movie theater. Please find the public list of key city contacts HERE.
We hope through your efforts, it might become clear to the city how much the theater has come to mean to the community over the past 20 years — and the grave economic impact that terminating a thriving cultural institution with no viable alternative will have. This may lead to the city making the right decision, rescinding the termination, and approving a renewal.
Thank you as always for your continued support of the Tower Theater and for your passionate love of cinema and Miami’s cultural landscape. We look forward to welcoming you to our upcoming GEMS festival, which will take place November 3-10, 2022.
Interim Executive Director
MDC’s Tower Theater Miami / Miami Film Festival