IBJNews

Performing-arts groups stretch to cover rent at Palladium

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Perimeter
Palladium The Carmel Symphony Orchestra rehearses in the Palladium, where it will begin performing in February. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Carmel is building a dream home for the performing arts.

Now those groups planning to move into it just have to figure out how to pay their share of the mortgage.

“It’s going to put a lot of pressure on us, but we’re interested in the challenge and the opportunity,” Indiana Wind Symphony Treasurer Tom Howenstine said.

The 70-piece band is one of seven groups named a resident company at the $150 million, three-venue Center for the Performing Arts. The Palladium, a 1,600-seat concert hall, opens in January. The wind symphony, which is a concert band, and the Carmel Symphony Orchestra will hold their first concerts in February.

Five more dance and theater groups are preparing to take up residence in the other venues, a 200-seat black-box theater that will open in March, and a 500-seat proscenium theater that opens in August.

Although heavily subsidized by the city of Carmel, the new digs aren’t cheap. Daily rates are approximately $3,500 for the Palladium, $2,000 for the 500-seat Tarkington theater, and $1,000 for the 200-seat Studio Theater, said Steven Libman, executive director of the performing arts center. Each group will have a separate contract that may vary from those rates, he added.

Libman said the rates are “in the ballpark” of what other state-of-the-art facilities charge. Nevertheless, managing the expense will test small organizations that until now have used school auditoriums and theaters, said Jim Morris, a Carmel-based not-for-profit management consultant who previously worked with performing arts groups in Orlando.

“Affordability becomes a big question mark,” Morris said. “When I hear $1,000, that’s extremely costly.”

Even the center’s management, backed by an $8 million operating budget that includes $2 million from the city of Carmel, will spend the first couple of years trying to iron out its marketing strategy, Morris noted. Local not-for-profits face a bigger learning curve.

“The groups tend to overestimate their ability to draw audience in the new space when it’s still unknown,” he said.

Resident status

The resident companies earned that status by agreeing to schedule at least four performances in any of the three venues. In exchange, they get access to the center’s online ticketing system and a discount on rents. (Libman said the higher rate that non-resident groups will pay is yet to be determined.)

Of course, they’ll also ride the wave of advertising that so far has focused on the Palladium’s superior acoustics. (Spokesman John Hughey would not disclose the center’s marketing budget.)

The music groups are counting on the Palladium to bring bigger audiences. If the Carmel Symphony Orchestra’s early ticket sales are any indication, they’ll get the boost they need.

Davis Davis

Season subscriptions have more than doubled, to about 850, and CEO Alan Davis thinks the four shows scheduled at the Palladium from February to May could sell out.

That’s after the CSO doubled its top ticket price from $20 to $40.

“The $40 tickets are by far the ones that have gone the quickest,” Davis said.

The CSO has seen its budget grow 60 percent in a single year, from about $450,000 in fiscal year 2010 to $720,000. That’s largely to accommodate the Palladium’s higher rent, plus an enhanced lineup of guest artists, Davis said. He declined to specify the rental costs because he had not yet signed a contract.

Palladium tableNew concert halls typically drive up attendance for orchestras, but the benefit doesn’t last forever.

When the orchestra in Madison, Wis., moved to Overture Hall in 2004, attendance grew 40 percent, Executive Director Richard Mackie said.

“There was a lot of anticipation about this building,” he said. “It was like a tidal wave, a cultural tidal wave in the community.”

The part-time, professional company’s subscriber base ballooned to 5,500, but fell back to 4,000 with the recession, Mackie said.

“You have to anticipate at some point that’s going to settle down. The hall effect for us was about three years.”

In recent years, Davis said, the semi-professional CSO has pulled advertising for concerts at Westfield High School to prevent overstuffing the 900-seat auditorium.

Now, Davis is seeing the effect of pent-up demand, and hopes it lasts. “Hopefully, they will come, they will have a wonderful experience, and they will want to be long-term subscribers.”

The Indiana Wind Symphony, a concert band, is scaling up from a smaller base.

The volunteer-led group has a budget of about $25,000 and is looking to hire its first part-time administrator, Howenstine said.

Not that it’s unprepared. Last year, the band began charging a regular admission price, $10 to $15, rather than just asking for donations, and added two concerts last summer to raise additional money.

With the higher rent and addition of guest artists, Howenstine said the budget will likely triple by 2012. The musicians hope attendance rises to match.

“We want to prove a concert band is viable in the same kind of venue as a symphony,” Music Director Charles Conrad said.

Unanswered questions

With the opening of the theaters still months away, other resident companies have barely begun to try to make the numbers work.

Don Farrell, producing artistic director of Actors Theatre of Indiana, knows one thing: “It’s going to be a substantial leap for us.”

Like many small theater troupes, ATI has led an itinerant existence. This past season, it subleased a converted storefront in Clay Terrace from Carmel Community Players for most of its performances. Then it held its holiday show at Pike Performing Arts Center, which belongs to the Pike Township school district in Marion County.

Rent for the Clay Terrace space was $1,500 a week, Farrell said. Come April, the company will pay at least $5,000 a week to stage “Chicago” in Carmel’s new 200-seat theater, Farrell said.

With costs so high, he said he can’t count on an attendance bump to cover the show. He and two co-founders of ATI will spend the first quarter seeking donations. They’ll also have to start a tuition-based education program.

“It’s one that’s going to be necessary for us to make the bottom line make sense,” he said.

Calendar control

Many of Carmel’s resident companies simply want to escape the venue-hopping that seems to get in the way of building a regular audience.

“Right now, we’re pretty much relying on the school theaters,” said Suzann DeLay, artistic director of the Central Indiana Dance Ensemble. “A lot of times, we’re not able to put out a full season in advance. We have to wait for the school calendar to be set.”

DeLay plans to use the Studio Theater next year and to stage a larger production in The Tarkington in the spring of 2012.

But she’ll have to look elsewhere to perform “The Nutcracker,” which is every dance company’s moneymaker. That’s because Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, which has first pick of dates in the 500-seat theater, will occupy it in December.

Civic Theatre will move to the performing arts complex from its current home at Marian University in Indianapolis under a deal struck last year. Civic will pay $10 million within 20 years in exchange for a 100-year lease, the opportunity to specify design of the 500-seat theater, and controlling the venue 75 percent of the year.

Likewise, Carmel Symphony Orchestra has dibs on the calendar for the Palladium. The two larger resident companies will pick their dates even before Libman’s team schedules touring acts.

“Control over the calendar is huge,” Morris said, and it could be what spells success for the larger companies, while the smaller ones struggle.•

ADVERTISEMENT

  • It should be about PEOPLE
    When will people get that establishing a world-class performing arts environment is about the people -- the PERFORMERS -- and not about some overblown building. Whether it plays at Westfield High School, or in the exalted "perfect" acoustics of the new Palladium, the Carmel Symphony will still be exactly what it is: a mediocre half-amateur community orchestra, most of whose players are not even professional musicians. So putting them in a "world class concert hall" is overkill at best. Those perfect acoustics of the Palladium will make the CSO's mediocrity all the more perfectly obvious. What a shame that all the tens millions of dollars which have been invested into this concert hall ego trip for Carmel were not, instead, invested in establishing and embellishing the region's professional performing arts organizations. Now THAT would have been a visionary move. It's never been about "the place." True art is about the people performing in it, and how inspiring THEY are.
  • Closing
    Even if it closes, they'll still need millions a year to maintain the $150 million investment. Since there is a mortgage on the facility you can't just let it sit there and rot. Since the recession is over, now is a good time to triple Carmel property taxes.
  • Rasing the Bar
    There is no doubt that the The Carmel Performing Arts Center will create many new opportunities in the performing arts in Central Indiana. With any change comes new opportunities and challenges. The Palladium is already showing what an extrodinary asset it will be for the region.
  • I give this place 3 years
    Then, either it will close or Carmel property taxes will need to go sky high.

    Brain nerd needs his brain examined.
    • What do they expect?
      What do these organizations expect? The place cost a couple hundred million dollars to build (and a lot more if you add in the interest on the bond payments.)

      There are plenty of other less expensive venues around town if they really wanted to find a cost effective solution. But if they want to swim with the big fishies... (They must know that, over the long haul, their product is not going to be worth what they are going to have to charge to be in fancy place and it is probably making them quite nervous. Oh well. These entities should ask the CRC for some dough. They've got a lot of walking around money to keep the pet projects afloat.)

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

    2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

    3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

    4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

    5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

    ADVERTISEMENT