Art Basel

South Florida Hopes Art Basel Will Bring Economic Boom

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Art Basel attracts thousands of people — even celebrities — and local businesses are looking forward to cashing in on the art frenzy. NBC 6’s Willard Shepard reports

Just off Biscayne Boulevard, the artwork is going up in the Ironsides complex. Artist Elidea was excited Tuesday about seeing her heart and soul here for all to see.

"Super excited for this week and especially for tonight," Elidea said.

And the native of Milan, Italy, who now calls South Florida home, can’t do it alone. She and other artists have hired production teams to turn empty spaces into galleries — money that wasn’t around last year.

"I am very lucky to find people to help me and to give the opportunity to other people, other businesses, to come back to work, and to the economy," Elidea said. "Last year was hard, not only for me."

From Miami Beach to Wynwood, to Little Haiti and other neighborhoods, Art Basel is bringing in jobs. For some, this week is a gold mine of cash that pays the bills for months.

More than $60 million will be spent on hotel rooms over the next few days, said David Whitaker, the president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"These events, when thousands of people travel here, they obviously take a taxi. They stay in our hotels. They go out to dinner," Whitaker said. "I was in Wynwood last night at the opening of the Wynwood Walls and all the restaurants were packed. That allows hard-working young men and women in our industry to get back to serving."

Art Basel’s impact isn’t just a one-time shot. Data shows over the three-month period starting in July, over 32 million visitors came to Florida. Many, if they like what they see this time, are expected to return.