George Merrick, the architect and developer of Coral Gables, honored his father in 1923 with what became the oldest established building and organization in Coral Gables: Coral Gables Congregational Church. The Church, incorporated in 1924 and located across from the Biltmore Hotel, has grown to become a well-regarded champion of the arts.

In 1985, a Summer Concert Series—initially composed primarily of up-and-coming local artists—was inaugurated at the Church. With the Church’s central location in Coral Gables, its Spanish-revival architecture and acoustically pleasing, uniquely intimate environment, an immediate connection between audiences and concert artists was established. Thirty-one years later, the connection continues.

In 2003, Mark Hart became Executive and Artistic Director. He created the Community Arts Program (CAP), comprised of the Summer Concert Series and a new after-school Conservatory for the Arts. CAP’s mission was stated: To serve a diverse community with educational and culturally-enriching experiences through the transforming power of the arts.

Today, the Summer Concert Series brings to Miami-Dade County a yearly roster of the most prestigious classical and jazz artists from around the world, and an affordable world-class experience for people from South Florida and beyond. The Conservatory for the Arts offers affordable music curricula to all youth–no matter what their circumstances–through needs-based, sliding-scale tuition. Each week from September-May, enrolled students attend CAP Saturday Music Classes held at the Coral Gables Congregational Church Arts and Education Wing and Early Childhood Center. Students receive one-on-one instruction on their chosen instrument (e.g., strings, piano, woodwind, percussion, brass, guitar, mandolin, voice) and comprehensive classes in music theory. Music theory testing and juried performance evaluations are held throughout the year. On Monday evenings from August-May, students participate in active-learning ensembles. These ensembles include Creative Strings Ensembles and—as part of the CAP Miami Jazz Institute begun in 2014—the Jazz PREP Band and ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble. A minimum of five performances throughout Miami-Dade County are offered each year by these ensembles.

In 2011,  CAP Records® was established as a platform for CAP Conservatory for the Arts’ recording projects. Students learn the art of studio musicianship, recording, production and marketing, while producing a real-life product. The first release—available through Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby—features the work of the CAP ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble on the CD “With a Swing!”

In May 2013, the CAP ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble was one of 15 youth jazz band finalists from throughout the United States and Canada chosen via audition to perform in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Festival.

In December 2013, CAP received a Knight Arts Challenge grant to establish a new initiative, the CAP Miami Jazz Institute, as part of the CAP Conservatory for the Arts. The Institute formalizes a CAP jazz curriculum, makes it possible to introduce more M-D County children to the “Great American Art Form” as well as contemporary music studies, and greater participation in a CAP Jazz PREP Band and CAP ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble.

In February 2014, the CAP ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble was again chosen by Jazz at Lincoln Center to perform in JALC’s Essentially Ellington Festival. In May 2015, the CAP ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble returned to Jazz at Lincoln Center for the third consecutive year to perform in Essentially Ellington.

In SUMMARY, the Community Arts Program continues to build on its following four exceptional and enriching cultural and educational curricula:

Since 1985, a SUMMER CONCERT SERIES that presents world-class artists to South Florida;

Since 2003, an after-school CONSERVATORY FOR THE ARTS that provides affordable, in-depth instrument, music theory, ensemble and performance curricula for children;

Since 2011, a CAP Records® recording label dedicated to recording projects that give children hands-on, 21st-century training in studio musicianship, recording, production and marketing.

Since 2014, a Miami Jazz Institute leg of the Conservatory for the Arts that introduces more Miami-Dade County children to the “Great American Art Form” as well as contemporary music studies.

With its Summer Concert Series, after-school Conservatory for the Arts, and CAP Records® , the Community Arts Program (CAP) continues to ever deepen its mission statement: to serve a diverse community by offering educational and culturally-enriching experiences through the transforming power of the arts.

For more information, email or call 305.448.7421, ext. 120.