Thirteen-hour arts festival Sleepless Night returns to Miami

When we turn our clocks back next Saturday night, what will you do with that extra hour? While many will sleep and others dance a little longer at the clubs, more than 130,000 are expected to use that hour for cultural edification.

Sleepless Night Miami Beach is the 13-hour arts festival that will stage more than 150 unique events at 80 venues across the city. This year will mark the third biannual festival sponsored by the city’s Cultural Arts Council.

“We chose the first Saturday in November because that’s the week we change the clocks and we get an extra hour of nighttime,” explains Gary Farmer, Head of Programming and Cultural Arts.

According to Farmer, Sleepless Night was modeled after a successful all-night festival in Paris, Nuit Blanche, and launched after the Arsht Center (then named the Carnival Center) opened in downtown Miami, taking many of the arts organizations that used to call the city’s Jackie Gleason Theatre home.

“At the time, Miami Beach was doing a marketing campaign called ‘25/7’ because there was so much to do,” he explains. “It was natural.”

The first weekend in November is traditionally slow for local businesses and the events in 2007 and 2009 broke sales records for the merchants.

“The success of Sleepless Night reiterates the fact that the arts are a viable industry in this state and contributes millions to our economy,” Farmer says. “Businesses love it and arts groups love it because they’re exposed to new audiences.”

Farmer is especially proud that the 400 artists, technicians and support staff are paid, although some city employees volunteer in the 10 information booths stationed around the city.

“These are the best of our local artists and we also get top quality artists from around the world,” he says. “From dancers and performance artists to music, film and visual arts, there is something for everyone.”

SFGN readers may be particularly interested in several LGBT artists highlighted at the festival:

Gay playwright Tony Finstrom will have his new play, “Murder on Gin Lane,” a classic whodunit set in the glitzy Hamptons, presented in a staged reading at the Byron Carlyle Theatre, 500 71st St., at 7 p.m.

Artist Ricardo Bellino utilizes used Nespresso capsules for pop art installations featuring celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol and Elizabeth Taylor. His work will be on display from 9 p.m. to Midnight at the Lord’s South Beach hotel, 1120 Collins Ave.

Gay performance artist Tim Miller brings his new show, “Lay of the Land,” to the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., at 10 p.m.  The internationally-acclaimed performer will explore the artistic, spiritual and political topography of his identity as a gay man.

Farmer notes the crowds tend to thin out around midnight, but audiences pick up again for the closing events. A free shuttle bus is available all night long and the 420 Lincoln Rd. parking garage is offering a special $10 rate from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Additionally “This Art is So Gay,” a juried mixed media art exhibition featuring works by area LGBT artists, opens with a reception from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the LGBT Visitor Center, 1130 Washington Ave., first floor.

For a downloadable program with performance schedules, go to SleeplessNight.org.