The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel is revisiting its search for a naming rights partner after the pandemic scuttled a previous deal more than three years ago.
CEO Jeff McDermott told IBJ that a company’s name could be added to—or change—the name of the Center, which encompasses the Palladium, The Tarkington and The Studio Theater, all at 1 Center Green in Carmel’s center core. He did not provide a dollar amount that the center is seeking from a deal.
“It’s got to be someone who really aligns with our mission, with our core values,” McDermott said.
The move would create a new funding source for the center, which is partially funded by the city of Carmel. McDermott said having a naming partner would allow the center to provide more classical, jazz and international artists and expand the organization’s educational offerings.
The center served more than 7,000 people in person last year with its educational programming and thousands more via livestream.
“We subsidize them pretty heavily,” McDermott said. “I think in any part … from a financial perspective [selling naming rights] will help us and enable us to do even more of that.”
A recent study conducted by Americans for the Arts estimated that Carmel’s arts venues generated $42.7 million in economic impact in 2022. Last year, more than 1 million people visited The Center for the Performing Arts for performances, educational programs, Christkindlmarkt and the Carmel Farmers Markets.
The center reported a 45% increase in patrons in 2023, including a 50% increase in first-time visitors and a 30% increase in return visitors.
The Center will again work with Chicago-based IEG, a leading sponsorship consultancy, to help guide the center in its search for a naming rights partner. In 2019, IEG performed an independent analysis for the center in its initial naming-rights campaign.
McDermott said the center had a naming rights partnership in place with an undisclosed health care company and nearly had a contract finalized when the pandemic began in March 2020.
He said the center “decided to hit the pause button” for about three years knowing that companies were not likely looking to pay for naming rights.
“So, we’ve decided now is a good time to reengage the process and see what we can find out there in the marketplace,” McDermott said.
In addition to managing the arts campus, the center also provides rent-free space, ticketing, ushers, security and support services to six independent resident companies, including Actors Theatre of Indiana, Carmel Symphony Orchestra and Civic Theatre.
The Center for the Performing Arts campus is also home to the affiliated Great American Songbook Foundation. The songbook foundation this month entered into a preliminary agreement with the city of Carmel to build a new museum on 3.7 acres at the northeast corner of City Center Drive and 3rd Avenue Southwest.
In 2022, Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank purchased the naming rights to the Center’s box office at the Palladium.