Letter: Arts center is not in the black

It was sad to see the Indianapolis Business Journal taken in by the Carmel Center for the Performing Arts’ public relations campaign to appear solvent [“Pandemic pivots keep Carmel arts center in black,” Aug. 20]. The center is deeply in the red and has been since day one.

It doesn’t pay its utility bills. Worse, in the accounting estimates the center provided as well as in its IRS Form 990 (not-for-profit) statements, the center has never paid a dime on two bonds issued on its behalf without taxpayer approval.

The center’s PR campaign claims $778,000 net revenue in 2018, $320,000 in 2019 and $151,000 in 2020. Carmel city data provided the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance disclose debt payments and taxpayer-funded utility bills not included in the PR campaign. Those payments made for the center by city council-authorized bailout total $7.4 million in 2018, $9.2 million in 2019 and $9.3 million last year.

Short version: Adding in the mortgage and utility bills means a deficit 9.5 times the purported “profit” in 2018, almost 29 times the 2019 figure and about 62 times that for 2020. This year, the two bonds outstanding are scheduled to cost $7.8 million and the utility bills already total $838,251. The PR campaign projects a $371,000 “profit” which is 24 times “profit” if the Center for the Performing Arts limits its utility bills to $1 million.•

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Bill Shaffer, Carmel

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