Widely regarded as the architect of Miami-Dade County's cultural ecosystem, Michael Spring retired at the end of September 2023 after 40 years of distinguished public service. He served as director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, where he was responsible for supervision of a public arts agency with an annual budget of more than $70 million and a staff of 100. He represented the Department on numerous cultural and civic organizations including service as chairman of the board of the Florida Cultural Alliance, secretary of the board of directors of Americans for the Arts, a founding board member and officer of Americans for the Arts Action Fund, member and past President of the United States Urban Arts Federation, chairman of the 5-county regional arts alliance, the South Florida Cultural Consortium, and director of the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. In 2014, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez expanded his responsibilities by appointing him to serve as a Senior Advisor for the County’s Cultural Affairs and Recreation portfolio, including oversight of the arts, parks and library departments.
In 2004, he helped lead the work to pass a referendum for the Building Better Communities bond program, dedicating more than $450 million for building the next generation of Miami-Dade’s cultural facilities, ranging from major new art and science museums to theaters and neighborhood arts centers. In 2007, he assumed the additional responsibility of leading Miami-Dade County’s outstanding Art in Public Places program, commissioning new work and caring for a collection of more than eight-hundred art works. In 2011, the Department of Cultural Affairs opened the new Arquitectonica-designed, Dennis C. Moss Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay, a campus that includes a 966-seat theater, an activities and classroom building, and outdoor concert lawn.
In conjunction with a major re-organization of Miami-Dade County government, the Department also assumed responsibility in 2011 for operating three cultural facilities, formerly managed by the Parks Department: Miami-Dade County Auditorium; Caleb Auditorium; and African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. Operating and programming cultural facilities constituted a major expansion of the Department’s role in the community.
A well-respected national arts leader, he testified before Congress in 2009, about the importance of the arts at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor meeting regarding “The Economic and Employment Impact of the Arts and Music Industry” using our County's success as an example.
Michael Spring has been recognized on multiple occasions for his outstanding work in building Miami-Dade’s cultural life, including: the Knight Arts Champion Award from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the WLRN Public Radio and Television Audrey Finkelstein Lifetime Achievement Award; the George Abbott Carbonell Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2023 Emerging Arts Legend Award; and, in recognition of his extraordinary leadership, Michael received the Selina Roberts Ottum Award, the highest honor in the field of local arts agencies, presented jointly by Americans for the Arts, our nation’s leading nonprofit for advancing the arts in America, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Throughout four decades of exemplary public service, Michael Spring helped build Miami-Dade County’s cultural community into a more than a $2.1 billion annual industry comprised of more than 1,000 non-profit cultural groups and thousands of artists. He has a B.A. degree from the University of Miami and earned an M.A. in painting from New York University, involving studies in Venice, Italy. He continues to paint and pursue his interests as a visual artist.