Letters and Opinion

Funds help launch Carmel arts center

June 23, 2012

The Center for the Performing Arts just finished a monumental season of programming. Well over 100,000 guests visited, making the center and its Palladium concert hall one of the region’s most visible destinations. The economic impact our guests had on local retailers and restaurants was significant while bringing in new tax revenue with every concert. In addition, it brought people to the area who will return to dine and shop.

That said, the center is not an organization in need of a turnaround or emergency funding. The city of Carmel has requested $850,000 of funding for the center for the period of July 1 through Dec. 31, not our current fiscal year, which ends June 30. This is not emergency funding to offset a deficit. In fact, with the government support the center has received for this city-owned facility through June 30, we are projected to balance the budget. The very competent staff at the center has been able to do this through a combination of strong fundraising and ticket sales along with excellent expense control.

The center is a major startup performing arts organization operating in a $170 million facility with huge overhead costs. It takes more than $2 million just to open the doors for a year. It was never intended to operate without substantial support from the city, individual contributions, corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and naming gifts, all of which are contributed income.

Our expectation is that government support will decrease as other contributed and earned income increases, but this will be a gradual process over several years. The operating subsidies from the city were not unexpected.

However, it is realistic to expect a budget which reflects an efficient operation, which we had this year. We must continue to ensure that we have competent people operating in an efficient manner to generate maximum income consistent with fulfilling our mission, while also providing a home for our seven local resident companies.

The city had the foresight to build a magnificent facility that is an economic stimulus for the area while also bringing world class entertainment to central Indiana. To its credit, the city also recognizes that it must continue to fund a significant, but declining, portion of the operating expenses until this new city-owned asset matures.
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Frank Basile,
interim president and CEO, Center for the Performing Arts

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