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In Coral Gables, two historic churches become an arts 'Sanctuary'

Rows of chairs face a stage.
Staff, Sanctuary of the Arts
The interior of one of the performance spaces at the Sanctuary of the Arts in Coral Gables, formerly The First Church of Christ, Scientist

The founders of the new Sanctuary of the Arts envision it as a 'go-to' place for performances and training.

In the best of times, opening a new performing arts center would be a challenge.

Try doing it during a global health crisis.

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"We really accomplished a tremendous amount during the pandemic," says trial attorney and longtime South Florida arts patron Mike Eidson. "It gave us time to get these things converted."

The conversion Eidson refers to is the transformation of three church properties in Coral Gables into Sanctuary of the Arts, a new performing arts complex.

It includes a 314-seat theater, a dance studio and a multimedia, multi-use performance lab.

For Eidson and his wife, Dr. Margaret Eidson, co-founders of Sanctuary of the Arts, the creation of the new venue combines two passions; nurturing South Florida's arts community and preserving historic properties.

The Sanctuary of the Arts has set up shop in the First Church of Christ, Scientist and — two miles to the south — St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church. Both structures are registered as historic buildings; the latter was the first African-American church in Coral Gables.

Eidson says the Sanctuary's mission is to give small and mid-sized arts organizations an affordable and accessible place to rehearse and perform.

"I love the ballet, opera, theater and music — and also the visual arts. And we saw we could put this all together and give these people an opportunity," he says.

Sanctuary of the Arts also houses the Miami Chamber Music Society (which Eidson created, funds, owns and operates) and Rafi Maldonado-Lopez’s Inter-American Choreographic Institute, which presented "Men Who Dance" at the Broward Center for the last two years.

Sanctuary of the Arts will have its official grand opening celebration this weekend.


Sanctuary of the Arts, located at 410 Andalusia Avenue in Coral Gables, will be having its grand opening celebration Friday, April 22 to Sunday, April 24, 2022. All three events are free and open to the public, first-come, first-served. No RSVPs.

Friday, April 22, 2022 at 7 p.m. will feature a concert and dance performance featuring Miami Chamber Music Society pianist Marina Radiushina, mezzo-soprano Solange Merdinian, Prima Ballerina Mary Carmen Catoya, and American Repertory Ballet’s Hernan Montenegro

Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. will feature a performance by Dance Now! Miami

Sunday, April 24, 2022 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. will feature a Family Fun Day with popcorn, cotton candy, children's activities and performances by Les Ailes du Desir Contemporary Circus School, Armour Dance Theatre and Miami Movement Company

For more information, please visit

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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