Page 56

Literary Leanings Tucked away in a landmark South Beach boutique hotel, the Writer’s Room at The Betsy connects artists to the local community. By Daphne Nikolopoulos

The raison d’être of The Betsy can be summed up by three words emblazoned on a small, turquoise button: Creativity takes courage. Although it isn’t an original sentiment (Henri Matisse said it a century ago), it does demonstrate the South Beach hotel’s commitment to nurturing and advancing the creative space in Miami. The aforementioned button, which is distributed to hotel guests as a tribal badge of sorts, is a calling card for The Betsy’s PACE program, which centers on philanthropy, arts, culture and education, with a special focus on the literary arts. For owner Jonathan Plutzik, cultural programming is not a gimmick or a way to stand out among the sleek hotels lining Ocean Drive. It is a passion ingrained long ago and a way to honor his own past. “I come from a family of writers and artists,” he says. “We have a natural inclination to be supportive of the literary community.” 54

Among those talented relatives is his father, Hyam Plutzik, a highly regarded poet and threetime Pulitzer Prize finalist who died in 1962 at age 51. “I’ve had the opportunity to connect with him through his writing,” says Plutzik, who was 7 when he lost his father. “I attach great power to the written word. It has a sense of immortality and longevity; it leaves a mark on the world.” In his father’s honor—and as a tribute to others who shape words into art—Plutzik and his sister, Deborah Plutzik Briggs, established the Writer’s Room at The Betsy (betsywritersroom.com). The studio space serves as a creative retreat for writers and poets, both established and emerging, to stay and work, at no cost, for up to a week at a time. Writers have to apply to the program and, if accepted, agree to host a literary salon—a concept all but lost in modern times—during which they can read their work or discuss their

ideas among members of the community. “For us,” says Plutzik, “that engagement creates a multiplier effect around their presence.” More than 250 writers, ranging from household names like Amy Tan to promising writers who have not yet been published, have been in residence in the Writer’s Room since its inception in 2012. Their accommodation: a small but well-appointed space with a foldout sofa, cork walls (for pinning ideas and inspiration), rows of books and Hyam Plutzik’s original writing desk. As the only program of its kind in Miami, the Writer’s Room has received international attention and support, most notably from the Knight Foundation. A longstanding advocate of the arts, the Miami-based foundation provided a Knight Arts Challenge grant of $60,000 as start-up funding for the project. The Betsy’s latest nod comes from the

ONELIFE

054-BETSY-ONELIFE-0315-new.indd 54

3/30/15 10:23 AM

ONE Life | Spring 2015 Issue  

The propriertary lifestyle magazine of ONE Sotheby's International Realty.