Carmel arts center makes room for more sponsors

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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