Explore the Overtown Performing Arts Center

Performers at the OPAC

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By Jessica Modkins

The Overtown Performing Arts Center holds true to the essence of Historic Overtown – Entertainment and Culture.

Overtown is one of Miami’s earliest historical black communities, once prominently known for black businesses and a national entertainment destination. It was referred to as “Little Broadway” and served as the home to restaurants, hotels and entertainment for Blacks. The resilience of this 1950’s Overtown excitement is still bustling after over a century.

One of the jewels in Overtown is The Overtown Performing Arts Center (OPAC). It sits off of NW 3rd Avenue in the heart of Historic Overtown. The Overtown Performing Arts Center is the former dwelling place of Ebenezer Methodist Church, built in 1948, after World War II for Blacks who were in need of a worship home. There is reminiscense of the worship facility upon every exterior glance. The facade is outfitted with all of the historic architectural elements – gothic revival design, flanking towers, and pointed triple arched entryway. A few decades later, in 1988, the building was declared historic and received $3 million in grants for the purpose of restoration.

Once inside the quaint facility you will immediately feel an inviting warmth. Its grand opening on July 27th featured all of the bells and whistles of something great coming. The “It Ain’t Over” Pop Up Art Gallery sponsored by OneUnited Bank and MIA Magazine’s Art of Black, featured “a great day of art and even better company” as billed. The day-long event invited the community out to see and enjoy art. The exhibited art were submissions to be featured in the exclusive MIA Magazine’s annual special December edition.

Then there was the pop-up restaurant, Sweet Butter, which was a sold out hit. It is the brain child of future restaurateur Ernisha Randolph. From the staging, cathedral ceilings, and full service kitchen; it was no wonder how Randolph was able to transform the space into a dinner theater with a live full band performance throughout the evening. The food was prepared and cooked on site and was phenomenal. It was a Louisiana styled soul food kind of night, with jambalaya, fried chicken, fried fish, collard greens, macaroni & cheese, and sautéed vegetables. The peach cobbler dessert topped off the evening with a bourbon infused iced-tea that would knock you off your feet!

The Overtown Performing Arts Center provides a platform for various special events and nights of entertainment like Sweet Butter for residents and visitor rentals. Different type of events range from weddings, baby showers, parties, receptions, corporate meetings, and much more. In addition to private rental options, the Overtown Performing Arts Center will house sponsored programming uniquely curated for millennials, senior citizens, children, and adults.

OPAC is a 2,000 square-foot facility built to provide the foundation for any breathtaking special event. With an open floor plan and state-of-the-art culinary kitchen that fills the basement, the site was designed for the inspiring event producers as well as the seasoned event specialists. OPAC’s open floor plan was designed to have a variety of event layouts in the front-of-house while still being able to host live performing arts from the stage. OPAC can accommodate guests up to 250 with theater styled seating and 110 guests for banquet, classroom, and meeting styled events.

The site restoration has provided a prideful feeling for former residents who see the community as a viable resource – and OPAC as an extension of the community.

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