Huffpost | Connecting entrepreneurship & art in Miami

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, Contributor

Organizational psychologist/strategist focused on merging innovation and community impact.

Miami has been touted as one of the most influential art cities in the world (#3 to be precise), thanks to our 75+ galleries, 10+ museums and institutions, and 20+ annual art fairs. Art Basel Miami – now more than 15 years old – is the undisputed premier gathering of contemporary art in the hemisphere.

But our arts exploration and innovation continues year-round, with recognized local institutions and novel ensembles creating projects in experiential, performing, and visual arts. If you haven’t visited The Lightbox, attended a Nu Deco Ensemble concert, popped by Speak Fridays, heard of the Smoke Signals events, checked out an “O, Miami” reading, seen a show with Miami New Drama or the Juggerknot Theater Company, seen a Primary Projects exhibit, or checked out the Pioneer Winter Collective, you have been living under a rock.

At CIC Miami, our mission is to change the world through innovation by developing ecosystems that allow exceptional entrepreneurs to create new products and companies better and faster. We enable startups to connect, collaborate and grow by building resource-rich communities. Since opening in Miami in October 2016 as part of the Converge Miami innovation district, we have tried to not only become a center of entrepreneurial and innovative activity in our city, but also to reflect the artistic personality and dynamism that Miami is known for. As such, we have worked with numerous local craftsmen, artists, and designers for both permanent installations and temporary activations of our space.

Although this is arguably the most visible part of our engagement with the artistic side of Miami, it is also the bare minimum we can do to better connect the creative industries and entrepreneurial business activities in our city. Especially in a city with as much design and creative talent as Miami, it would feel remiss to not find ways to engage directly, and myopic not to inject their perspectives into our physical spaces and programming.

A Miami lens is much more than the beach or the marriage of cultures. It is a vision for creative execution that is as varied as it is contemporary and relevant. The value of an exchange between the artistic and entrepreneurship sectors is more urgent than ever, as we learn from The Atlantic, Inc, and BigThink.

Featuring local craft

CIC crafts our interior spaces with a detailed and specific goal: driving collaboration. We do this through behavioral design that affects every aspect of our footprint, and the localization of this perspective is an important component of what transforms the space from a hallway or an office to a place of inspiration, engagement, comfort, and productivity. We view this as a direct extension of our commitment to communal inclusiveness and conscious design; having a space for artists and artistry will contribute to a more diverse, thought-provoking and interesting hub and will support the development of a more inclusive and intriguing innovation ecosystem.

Over the last year, we have chosen to work with various local creatives and artists to achieve our desired outcome, including the following.

In addition to these permanent pieces, we are working with Louis1978, a boutique studio offering creative services focusing on collaborating with company/enterprise projects that require an infusion of creativity. They have worked with Pepsi, L’Oreal, Kiehl’s in designing adaptive innovative spaces, and are heading the redesign of our first floor lobby space, coming Fall 2017.

CIC has also displayed the artwork by locals Amir Youssef, Chia Ortegon, and Birds are Nice, and Andrell Hoyte, and over the months to come, we will be rotating exhibits by local Miami artists. As an example, if you are a photographer – amateur or professional – and wish to contribute to our “Miami Characters” exhibit, please submit a photo here.

Defining real gaps and opportunities… what’s next?

We believe that artists are intrinsically entrepreneurs, and CIC’s ecosystem of innovators is able to provide a place for the creation, presentation, and discussion of art in all of its forms. Art has inherent value in its command of human thought and emotion, and also in the power of the provocative and creative energy that it catalyzes. Our intent at CIC is not only to create a space for artists to engage with each other, but more importantly to create tangible avenues to enable artists to connect with entrepreneurs across various disciplines, and vice versa.

To do this, we have launched an initiative called The Creator’s Lounge, the goal of which is to create a physical and figurative space for convergence of the entrepreneurship and artistic sectors in our city. Its kick off will be held on October 26 in partnership with Venture Café Miami, and will feature an evening of local artists, organizations, and engaging programming. Moving forward, The Creators Lounge will focus on topics such as artists as entrepreneurs, the intersection between technology/science and the arts, performance and social behavior, and so on. Our objective is to create a canvas to which both entrepreneurs and artists can contribute, so all of this programming will be executed in partnerships with a wide range of local arts institutions, which we will announce at the October kick off. If you are interested in (a) displaying your work at CIC Miami, (b) offering “creative” office hours, (c) hosting an event, (d) attending our business office hours for financial, legal, or other advice, please reach us at