History credits the inception of the Civil Rights movement to Montgomery, Alabama in the mid-1950s. However here in Miami as early as 1951, there existed a Fine Arts Conservatory dedicated to bringing music, dance and art to young black and white students in an integrated environment. This little known Conservatory founded by longtime Miami resident Ruth Greenfield, would challenge segregation and change the lives of many of those who attended the school.
Some like classical, clarinet lover Fredrick Morley, would institute the programs he participated in at the Conservatory as the principal of a highly acclaimed elementary school. Others would start their own conservatories or theater companies or become life-long advocates for the arts.
It's exactly what Greenfield had in mind when she conceived the Conservatory as a place where those of any color can come together, be taught by first rate teachers and be instilled with a sense of dignity and confidence so they can strive to reach their full potential.
As the Conservatory wound down in the late '70s, it overlapped another Greenfield project known as the Lunchtime Lively Arts Series. Initiated in 1972 to help revitalize a downtown in decline, it was hosted by Miami Dade College and brought a variety of free entertainment every Wednesday at noon to various downtown venues. The series which spanned almost twenty years, reignited interest in the arts and was the spark that led to Miami's urban renewal that is still taking place today.
Chronicling these events is an engaging one hour documentary by Steve Waxman titled, "Instruments of Change." The film shows the power the performing arts has in bringing a community together and features intimate interviews, emotional footage and photographs along with archival and current day performances from those who participated in these nearly forgotten endeavors. The film was commissioned by longtime admirers of Ruth Greenfield to honor her dedication for making Miami a better place to live.
Airs on WLRN-TV on the following days and times;
Thursday, January 23 at 10pm
Saturday, January 25 at 4pm
Saturday, February 22 at 6pm
Information about the Producer
Steve Waxman is a veteran TV producer whose documentary writing and producing credits include the PBS aired programs, “Great Entrepreneurs,” “Generations in the Sun," and the Emmy nominated, "Prohibition and the South Florida Connection," which was produced for WLRN.
In addition, Mr. Waxman has also written and produced over a hundred TV commercials, numerous lifestyle segments and an ecological promotion film shot in the Galapagos Islands.
A longtime resident of South Florida, Steve and his wife Sula currently reside in Hollywood.