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Carmel arts center makes room for more sponsors

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The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel expects the 2012-13 concert season, announced this week, to bring a healthy bump in sponsor revenue.

That’s not because of any one big name on the marquee. Rather, the center has added smaller opportunities, from preferred partnerships with vendors to naming rights on rooms inside the Palladium, on top of concert-series sponsors.

“Now that we have that foundation in place, we’re looking at incremental opportunities,” Jim Austin, the centers director of advancement, said.

Sponsor revenue in the 2013 fiscal year could increase 25 percent to 30 percent over $1 million that’s anticipated for the current year, which ends June 30, Austin said.

The center is under pressure to increase revenue and cut expenses as its current budget, about $14.5 million, includes a $5.5 million subsidy. The subsidy is provided by the Carmel City Center Community Development Corp., or “4CDC,” an entity that's tied to the Carmel Redevelopment Commission.

The lineup announced Wednesday includes 54 acts. St. Vincent Health is once again the season sponsor, and six of eight concert series sponsorships are sold.

Austin, an event-marketing veteran who has worked for the 500 Festival, among other events, joined the performing arts center staff prior to its gala opening in January 2011. He took over all fundraising duties after five of the center's staff members were eliminated in December.

The center has since announced its annual fundraiser, a season-finale gala that follows an awards show featuring Barry Manilow. The gala already has a title sponsor, law firm Krieg DeVault. First Merchants Bank put its name on the cocktail reception. Now Austin is pushing local companies to buy tables for the event.

The “Encore Celebration Gala,” which is June 16, follows a show for the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame, an initiative of Michael Feinstein, the center’s artistic director. Manilow, one of the inductees, is scheduled to sing one of his iconic songs. The other inductees are Cole Porter and Alan & Marilyn Bergman.

The 2012-13 season won’t deviate much in its subscription offerings, though one new category, "family," was added in response to many requests from the community, spokesman John Hughey said.

The center is not finished booking, so the total number of performances will likely grow to match the current season, which has 81, Hughey said. Interim CEO Frank Basile thinks he can cut spending on artist fees by about 10 percent from the current level of about $3.75 million. He said the center’s staff is negotiating lower fees and using a profit-loss analysis before signingpricier acts.

 The 2012-13 season starts July 27 with LeAnn Rimes in the Palladium

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  • Cost Benefit analysis
    The quote of Basille suggests there was previously no cost benefit analysis performed before any of the expensive acts. As long suspected, it doesn't seem there had been any cost/benefit analysis performed on the center itself at all. There is no way to recuperate the 175 million dollar structure and 5.5 million in annual operating subsidies we pay as a city to keep this place open.

    When the Palladium's foundation was recently audited after one of their scandals (I forget which one) a statement was made that the cost of the facility was never factored into their budget. What is the annual mortgage payment on a $175 million dollar facility? I bet anything it's not being factored into the cost/benefit analysis of any individual group. There is not a performer in the world who can command high enough ticket prices to fill a 1,600 seat venue, pay for the cost of the venue, and result in a profit to the entertainer. Libman said ticket prices would have to be $200 per seat and sell every one of them but we now know even that didn't include the whole cost of the facility.

    What would the real cost be? $400? $800? What if not every seat did sell and we still tried to recuperate the cost - would it be over a thousand dollars per seat? This sounds like a silly question, but the flip side is that every dollar less than this target amount we allow the seats to be sold for is a loss to the city.

    So all those fifteen dollar nosebleed seats? - Yeah, the guy sitting there paid fifteen bucks but my city subsidized the ticket several hundred dollars for his privelage. If the cost can't be passed onto the beneficiary of the service, the larger business concept should have been deemed impractical during the conception stages.

    Thus, it seems highly unlikely any cost/benefit analysis had ever been performed on the Palladium to begin with and if it had where did they get their inputs!

    To the Michael above, as a finance guy wouldn't you agree?
  • This place is a disaster
    I am a professional in a finance-related field. I have a love for the arts and have looked at the 990 and audit information for this organization MANY times. It should be on the fiction best seller list. The numbers don;t add up, percentages don't equate and, if you speak to donors for the Center, you realize that not only are they unhappy with the relationship established but, more often than not, they plan to discontinue the relationship due to what is widely recognized as being financial mismanagement. The place was built without any buy-in from major city players and that is now really starting to show. Folks at Lilly Endowment warned against this endeavor but the Carmel mayor was determined to push it forward. and HERE IT IS! a gaping ZIT on the nose of the greater community. It is tacky- poorly decorated, poorly planned, poorly programmed and overly extravagant. What is worse is that it is just sitting in a tiny little city that is a suburb of another city. There is nothing special about Carmel-- just some traffic circles, NEW money in families who don;t have the class to do something with it, and a performing arts center that was plopped down and then expected to be blessed by the community. Most of the programming is dated and has lost relevancy and those artists who ARE relevant are brought in on such a seldom basis that this is really not uplifting the community through the arts. It is just another half-assed effort that involved egregiously inappropriate over-spending of funds that SHOULD have been used to invest in the CITY of Indianapolis. Walk around downtown for a day and tell me where YOU would spend those millions. It could have refaced the impoverished areas, enriched and enlivened existing facilities and a REAL city something even more attractive and desirable. Instead, an aluminum, vinyl siding, and faux brick joke of a facility was erected and wasted valuable financial resources. From day one, it was a mistake and, at NO point this far, has anyone associated with the center or city carmel apologized for the lack of proper planning for something of this magnitude. Mediocrity, thy name is the Center for the Performing Arts. No one wants to name something that is the brunt of every joke in the arts community. Stop LYING about your strength and promise in the way of sponsorship. Own up to your mistakes. Then, and only then, will you be able to start building a positive reputation.

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