Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashlee Thomas.
Ashlee Thomas considers herself a cultural ambassador of South Florida. A Miami Native, she attended New World School of the Arts for high school, musical theater division. Understanding the importance of business, she received her bachelor of marketing from Florida State University.
Directly after undergrad, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she was a member of the professional dance company Contra-tiempo Urban Latin Dance Theater where she toured as a professional dancer and launched the Contra-tiempo Summer Arts Camp.
Internationally, she is the co-founder and founding Festival Director of Melbourne Australia’s first web series festival. After a year overseas, Ashlee returned to Miami and completed her Master’s in Public Administration at FIU. She has worked in arts administration as Manager of marketing of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center under the Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and as Manager of Education & Community Outreach at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
As an educator, Ashlee served as the Drama Magnet teaching serving Charles R Drew K-8. She is currently Co-founder and president of MUCE, the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience, an arts and festival production company bringing niche heritage experiences to the world. Ashlee serves as a Board Member for the Florida Cultural Alliance and was recently appointed to the Miami Dade County Art in Public Places Trust.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
A creative path is a rugged one. If you truly want to build a life you love on your own terms in the creative field – you must grab a machete and get to carving out a path.
Some of the struggles have been: Money – In the beginning, I had to run back to traditional 9-5’s because my creative career was dry as well. Taking the leap of faith back into a creative path: a consistent paycheck will put fear in the unknown
Self-Esteem: Knowing that I was worthy of a career path that I truly loved and being ok with starting over.
Partnerships: Some have been great, others quite regrettable but a lesson learned in all of them.
Finding time for the creative projects I want to work on: The bills have to be paid so some passion projects have been put on hold – with fingers crossed they will see their light of day.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about MUCE + Miami Urban Contemporary Experience?
Miami Urban Contemporary Experience is an arts production company that brings brands and ideas to life with art. Through pop up art exhibitions, festival production and heritage programs, we are committed to diversifying the artistic landscape of the Western World.
It’s sister company MUCE is a registered 501c3 non-profit. Out Mission: to creates cultural spaces and produce artistic programming that fosters and nurtures creative talent in urban neighborhoods, rich in heritage but lacking in resources. It is a platform that elevates voices of BIPOC artists as well as a bridge for the community to explore, collaborate, and serve through the arts.
MUCE EDUCATES strives to nurture talent in distressed areas to create new employment opportunities in the arts.
In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
Arts and Culture is one of the very few industries that will always require human influence. As technology outsources so many of our jobs, creativity and cultural experiences can not be technologically outsourced. As the world becomes more of the same, niche experiences become the area where people want to invest their money. Because Culture is centered in people, our industry has continual opportunities for growth as ideas and circumstances inform the human experience. The wealth trend is upward for first-generation college students and immigrants who cherish their history and want to see it preserved. For those who create experiences, this means an economic boom that positively affects their business and the community that they serve (artist, performers, folklorist, etc.)
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.muce305.org
- Instagram: @muce305
- Facebook: @muce305
All images are courtesy of MUCE ashleecharlesdrew: Ashlee K. Thomas headshot with Commissioner Jean Monestime for the Haitian Heritage Exhibition 2021 dispersed: Featured artist and performance of Dispersed | MUCE Arts & Culture Festival 2020 with Commissioner Keon Hardemon in front of a MUCE pop-up exhibit at the Lowes Hotel for GMCVB conference 2018