We had the good fortune of connecting with Cameron Basden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cameron, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Miami Dance Hub was founded in 2018 by Artistic Director, Cameron Basden and Executive Director, Trisha Carter. We had the goal of uniting, supporting, growing and promoting the Southern Florida dance community through an organizational ‘hub’. As present and former dancers, we were used to hard work and persistence, so the idea that this lofty goal would need some focused attention with very little financial gain was not an unfamiliar one. After much research, Trisha and I knew the Southern Florida dance community needed a ‘hub’ to gather and disseminate information; we had very strong ideas about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. But we also recognized that we did not know everything. Our vision was to create an encompassing and easy to navigate website with resources for the community, to provide dance training information on an updated and regular basis, and to promote any dance performance, job opportunity, and event that was happening in the entire south Florida region. We wanted this collected information to be readily available on a phone, as well as on the MDH website. It seemed simple enough. This was three years ago in 2018. Looking back at those three years, I think the most important factor that was (and still is) an on-going, pervasive presence in our work, was that we continually remained receptive and open to new ideas. We sought information from people who had ‘been there,’ looked at other cities to see what was working and what wasn’t, and mostly, we were never afraid to try (or fail). Some ideas were totally successful and some, not so much. We had to listen carefully to our community to decipher what was needed and what was superfluous – but it was the trying that made the difference. We realized our dance community in Southern Florida was not the same as other communities, so we could not always rely solely on what worked in other places. In year one, we started applying for grants to support a live, interactive, inclusive performance event. We wanted to not only bring various genres in the dance community together, but also create a non-threatening atmosphere to introduce new audience members to the wealth of dance that exists in our area. The event was very successful and put Miami Dance Hub on the map. In year two, we continued our funded live event, had limited donor presence, and we started using social media more. Our demographic expanded north, the website was upgraded, we presented network gatherings, and offered our first wellness event. To interact with the community, we held numerous interviews and panel discussions with local dance organizations and we started a newsletter. Our brand was becoming more of a household name and the community was RELYING on us to solve problems. That was a huge step! In year three, which was 2020, the pandemic-quarantine hit and everyone was at home. As a mostly virtual organization, this was our biggest growth spurt yet. We were able to implement many of the goals that had only been a discussion up to this point, primarily because Trisha and I had more time from lost employment in the dance field. We became an absolute necessity for artists in the community to survive by providing financial information, guides to unemployment, and weekly calendar listings of virtual technique classes and live streamed performances. We had zoom cocktail parties, held frequent ‘check in’ conversations with community members, and kept regular connection to the dance community through zooms, emails and conversations. We launched original programming with monthly vlogs and podcasts featuring local and national dance personalities and held a forum on the future of digital performance with national arts leaders. Social media was targeted and marketing was streamlined to grow our audience. These were skills that were all earned through listening and doing. In a time when the arts were totally shut down, MDH was an invaluable resource of information and connectivity. Grants have been our financial savior throughout our growth since the MDH team is now five strong. We are very indebted to The Miami Foundation, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Office of the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and the Board of County Commissioners, and the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Housing and Community Development. In a look back at what our goals have been, it gives me great pleasure to see that Trisha and I have implemented much of what we hoped over this rather short period. We continue to have goals. We are in the process of raising funds for a communal, sprung indoor/outdoor dance floor to allow organizations opportunities to perform after a year of limited or no performance opportunities. We are working on our first Dance Festival through the Miami Beach Open House initiative. We understand that advocacy for dance is huge and we remain committed to making our voices heard. There is no end to the possibilities, but Trisha and I both know that strength comes in listening, being fearless and a lot of hard work.
What should our readers know about your business?
Miami Dance Hub is about the ‘art’ of dance. While we encompass all of the necessary items that a dance service organization should, the creative aspect of dance is never forgotten. I think that is what separates us from a typical service organization. Trisha and I are both dancers, with dancer sensibility. We carry a long standing history of discipline in art and life, relentless determination, much creativity, and an overriding business awareness that has matured and developed as we have navigated the culture of the dance world. While our backgrounds differ and we are from two generations ( I am much older!), it is the uniting of our strengths and the dancer creativity within us that has made Miami Dance Hub successful. Our ‘dancer sense’ is pervasive in everything we do: in the care that is taken, the extensive research that is done, the immediacy in responding to people, in how our website looks, social media posts, and how we treat people and want to be treated. We also like to laugh! We often laugh at ourselves as we get very anal about organization, correspondence, or gathering information which has helped alleviate tensions and keep us grounded through the trials of building an organization from the ground up. Our team and board like to have fun too, and with all the work that must be done, we find our passion with a sense of humor and joy. In a very short three years, and a lot of hard work, Trisha and I are most proud that Miami Dance Hub has become a well-known local organizations the dance community has come to rely on. The dance community has the expectation that MDH will deliver and we are proud that we are a ‘go-to’ and much needed resource. It is a huge responsibility, but one that we have aspired to create – and one that we take on willingly. As MDH Executive Director and Artistic Director, respectively, Trisha and I work together seamlessly with our roles and responsibilities shifting to balance organizational needs, community support, and personal strengths. Some days we are overtasked volunteers, other days an entire marketing department, and more recently tax accountants. In the nonprofit, small business realm, no two days are the same! After attending Indiana University for just one year, I became a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet before becoming ballet master and ultimately, Associate Director. Understanding a dancer’s perspective was invaluable as I segued to a leadership role in working with a board, staff, marketing, development, and finance departments. They did not know dance, nor the Joffrey product, and I could learn from them while sharing my dance experience. Six years as Director of Dance at Interlochen Arts Academy expanded my professional life into the educational sector where I had to wear multiple hats including fundraising, balancing my own budget, and scheduling a multitude of guests. Working with a variety of high school students certainly opened my eyes to the multiplicity of dance genres – a much needed perspective in south Florida that has been a benefit for MDH. Trisha, training on scholarship extensively, danced with Houston Ballet II and Ballet Florida until an accident derailed the trajectory of her career. She had come to a crossroad, and for the first time in her life, did not choose ballet. Instead, she undertook the “normal” life of a college student. Five years later she graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a B.B.A. in International Business & Trade and a B.S. in International Economics. Upon graduating, she steadily danced her way into the dance scene in Miami eventually working with Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami as both dancer and company manager, already blending her roles. With her background in business, economics, and management, coupled with her engagement in the dance community of south Florida, Trisha is in a unique position to drive change for today and tomorrow’s artists and audiences. While the dance community reaches around the entire world, it is a rather small and interconnected one. The fact that Trisha and I are from two generations makes our reach very extensive. Having a wealth of experiences and the opportunity to wear many hats was a great preparation for MDH. We did not always know what would be coming at us but between Trisha and I, we could figure it out. More importantly, as dancers, we were not afraid to try and try again.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would absolutely take them to as many dance performances that were happening on all stages, large and small, indoor and outdoor! We also love museums and live music- because art has many different forms – and would encourage visits to see and hear everything Miami has to offer. The city has a delightful variety of cuisines from all over and many neighborhood local gems, too many to name. Any visit to Miami usually includes the sun and beaches, but we would be sure to show off the vibrant arts and cultural community as a thriving part of the whole Miami-Dade landscape.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Please credit Cameron Basden (Miami Dance Hub Artistic Director), Trisha Carter (Miami Dance Hub Executive Director), the Miami Dance Hub team, and the many dance organizations and artists of Southern Florida.
Photography credit: Mitchell Zachs