Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tigertail Productions in Miami Florida to Close After 38 Years of Progressive Presenting

Founder and Executive Director Mary Luft Will Retire

Tigertail Productions, Inc., announced that it will dissolve as of December 31, 2017. Executive Director Mary Luft, who founded the not-for-profit cultural organization in 1979 and led it throughout its 38 years, announced her retirement to Tigertail's Board of Directors. After a thorough discussion, the Board determined that the organization will dissolve as of the end of the year. No further events are planned.

Tigertail was incorporated in November, 1979, as Mary Luft and Company, Inc. Soon, Luft began to present performance and music events, often from the studio behind her Tigertail Ave. home in Coconut Grove. In 1984, the Board renamed the organization to Tigertail Productions.

Highlights include the 1988 New Music America (NMA), which brought to Miami over 100 local, regional, national and world artists for a 10-day series of events. For 12 years, NMA was held in a different city each year and grew into one of the largest new music festivals ever held in North America by the time it came to Miami.

In addition to its lengthy presenting history, Tigertail has proven to be a breeding ground for Miami artists. Tigertail's programs combined an energetic mix of area, national and international artists of all disciplines. Over the years, Tigertail presented over 670 artists – in dance, music, film/video, theater, performance, poetry/spoken word and the visual arts. In addition to its annual concert season, Tigertail commissioned and provided travel opportunities within the US and abroad for hundreds of local artists to develop and facilitate their careers. In addition, a number of persons who once worked for Tigertail have themselves gone on to become cultural leaders. Miami Light Project co-founder Janine Gross worked for Tigertail for NMA, as did former Miami Herald critic Jordan Levin. Georgiana Picketts involvement with Tigertail helped lead to her current position as Executive Director of New York City's Baryshnikov Arts Center. O Cinema co-founder Vivian Marthell worked for Tigertail, as have many other local arts activists.

Luft’s experience researching music in Brazil for NMA, coupled with her 1989 Fulbright Fellowship there, led to 20 years of cultural exchange projects with the country. In 1995, Tigertail began FLA/BRA, an annual festival that brought cutting-edge Brazilian artists to Miami until the incidents of 9/11/2001 made it difficult to impossible. Local performing and visual artists were also sent to Brazil to perform, exhibit and work with Brazilian artists. Other international festivals included a 2-year project with FranceFLA/FRA(2014 & 2015), and two "element"-based festivals – WATER and FIRE (2016 & 2017).

In 2000, Tigertail launched danceAble. Co-presented with the Florida Dance Association, this unique program focused on dance as a vital art form and a fundamental means of physical expression for persons with and without disabilities. danceAble confronted traditional dance ideologies and challenged the notion of who can create and perform. Presented each year until 2013, the project presented leading artists and companies from around the world. Additionally, Tigertail structured exchange residencies for Miami artists in other countries. Tigertail continued to present physically integrated dance events through its final 2016-17 season.

Tigertail entered the literary arena in 2003 with the publication of an annual poetry collection, Tigertail, A South Florida Poetry Annual. Each of the 10 editions featured a different editor and a cover by a well-known South Florida visual artist. The first edition was edited by MacArthur Foundation "Genius" awardee Campbell McGrath, the cover by Carlos Betancourt. Volume IV of the annual was edited by President Obama's inaugural poet Richard Blanco. The anthology was published annually until 2013. From the 1990s through the present day, Tigertail produced youth spoken word projects WordSpeak and SpeakOut. Established poets taught and mentored students in the spoken word form. Over the years, Tigertail sent dozens of teens to Brave New Voices – a national festival considered the "olympics" of teen spoken word. Tigertail is currently in discussion with a potential successor to these programs, with the hope that teens will continue to have these opportunities in the future.

In 2014, Tigertail launched a new project, ScreenDance Miami, featuring dance created not for the stage but for the camera. ScreenDance Miami included panel discussions, workshops, site-specific installations and screenings of dance films by local, national and international dance and film artists. The annual festival continued through this year. For ScreenDance Miami, also, Tigertail is actively discussing the continuation of the program by another organization so that South Florida can remain one of the leading cities that supports screen dance.

Tigertail Productions’ website,, which archives each of Tigertail's seasons from 1997 to date will be maintained several years into the future to continue its legacy as Florida's pioneer of innovative art.

Tigertail Productions
842 NW Ninth Court
Miami, Florida 33136  

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