News Column

Obama Appoints Miami Businessman Ricky Arriola to Presidential Arts Panel

Nov. 10, 2009


President Obama Appoints Miami Businessman and Obama Fundraiser Ricky Arriola to Presidential Arts Panel

Miami businessman, local arts leader and President Obama fundraiser Ricky Arriola has been appointed by Obama to serve on the President's 26-member Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which includes creative luminaries such as actors Edward Norton and Sarah Jessica Parker and musician Yo Yo Ma.

Arriola, President and CEO of Inktel Direct, a direct marketing firm based in Miami -- and No. 202 on this magazine's HB 500 list of the nation's largest Hispanic-owned companies -- is deeply involved in Miami's art scene.

He's also a recent strong supporter of the Democratic Party, contributing $37,850 to candidates in the 2008 elections, according to The lion's share of his donations went to the Obama Victory Fund, but he also gave $1,000 to Hillary Clinton's presidential primary campaign. In 2007, he was a fundraiser for the Obama campaign, according to Politco. But his history of financial support isn't limited to Democrats: In 2004, he gave $1,000 to the President Bush's reelection campaign, according to the Huffington Post.

He currently serves as chair of Miami's Performing Arts Center Trust, an independent body of business and civic leaders that oversees the nonprofit Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

The presidential committee is the nation's preeminent body focused on arts and humanities education, cultural diplomacy and economic revitalization through the arts and humanities. It serves as a liaison between The White House and federal cultural agencies, as well as civic, corporate, foundation, and private funders that seek to further the nation's investment in the arts and humanities.

In addition to Norton, Parker and Yo Yo Ma, committee members include actors Forrest Whitaker and Alfre Woodard, fashion luminary Anna Wintour and philanthropist Teresa Heinz. First Lady Michelle Obama serves as the Committee's Honorary Chair.

In Miami, the 41-member board of the Performing Arts Center Trust has helped guide the creation and financial viability of the new Adrienne Arsht Center, the third-largest performing-arts center in the United States, which opened in 2006.

A press release announcing Arriola's appointment said the center has "balanced its budget for the second-consecutive year, paid off its last remaining bank debt seven years early, and elevated its role as a catalyst for economic development in Miami's burgeoning urban core."

"Ricky Arriola is one of the Adrienne Arsht Center's most valuable assets," said M. John Richard, President and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center, in the statement.

The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities has served every president since 1982. Achievements include the origination of the Presidential Medals in the arts and humanities; groundbreaking cultural delegations to China and Mexico; and the creation of signature programs, such as "Save America's Treasures," the American Film Institute's "Project: 20/20," and the "Coming Up Taller" awards, which recognize exemplary after school arts and humanities programs for the nation's youth.

Source: (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

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