The Proposed Tallahassee Center for Performing Arts & Education
by Glenn W. Robertson
following Q&As are based on substantial related research. Many more details
1. Do most state
capitals have a Performing Arts Center?
Yes: North and South
Dakota, Alaska and Florida do not.
2. Are there cities in
Florida similar in size to Tallahassee/Leon that have Performing Arts Centers?
Yes, including Sanford, Bradenton, Gainesville, Hollywood,
Do many USA cities
similar to Tallahassee/Leon have Performing Arts Centers?
Yes, including Paducah (25,000 population / 169,000 in
adjacent counties), Madison Wisconsin ( 330,000 urban population), Durham,
N.C., South Bend, Indiana, Virginia Beach, VA, Green Bay, Wisconsin and many, many more.
4. Is there evidence
that any Performing Arts Centers failed financially during the Great
No, none that I could find. Intelligent
programming producing needed revenues plus civic pride and citizen loyalty seems
to sustain Performing Arts Centers across the United States.
5. Is there a general awareness
of the many opportunities a Performing Arts Center can deliver?
No. Not many people are aware of what a Performing Arts
Center can produce for a city and county. Research findings tell a surprisingly
positive story. If this story can be relayed effectively to citizens, it is
quite possible and likely that a majority of citizens will be impressed and
supportive of having a Performing Arts Center in Tallahassee.
Will Tallahassee’s economy
be better when a 1 Penny sales-tax referendum is held? Yes, according to most current economic projections. By the time the 1
Penny referendum occurs (by 2016 or later?), it is very likely that Florida and
Tallahassee/Leon’s economy will be in a much higher growth period than now. After
a significant community education effort and with more positive economic
impacts on businesses and families, citizen support for the referendum,
including the CPA, could be sizable.
7. Do most local
governments support the construction of their Performing Arts Center? Yes. The latest to do so
is Greensboro, North Carolina where the City Council recently budgeted $ 20
million as their share of a public-private partnership to build the Greensboro Performing
Arts Center. Individuals, businesses and
other groups now know that the Performing Arts Center will be a reality if they
collectively do their part. Citizen (e.g.
cash and estate distributions) and business contributions are now much more
likely because the City verified its commitment. In addition, the budgeting of
public funds can generate public-private business financing relationships that
can likely guarantee a successful Performing Arts Center.
8. Do local governments
typically support their Performing Arts Center’s operating budgets?
Yes. Studies indicate governments budget
an average of 12% of operational funding requirements. There is substantial documentation that government
on-going support can be reduced as CPAs get established, more private revenues streams
become available and current revenue sources increase with the programming of
high quality performances and events.
9. Is there a logical reason
for government to support a Performing Arts Center?
Yes. Substantial evidence and documentation
clearly shows that in downtowns similar to Tallahassee there is significant new
and expanded private business investments after a city announces intentions
to build a Performing Arts Center. This results in growth in downtown property
purchases (for residential and commercial uses), continually increasing property
values and continually increasing collections of property taxes for
the city, county and school district. In addition, sales taxes, bed taxes,
occupational licenses, permit fees, rental car fees, filing fees and other
governmental revenues are produced because a CPA is built and then operated.
If Tallahassee/Leon invests $ 30 million towards the Performing Arts Center’s
construction ( $ 52 million total cost estimate) and about $ 650,000 a year
(about 12% of the total) to help cover operating costs, it is likely that
within 15 years those contributions will more than be replaced with the above
mentioned tax and fee collections. Every year thereafter, it is
likely that all local governments and the state government will receive large
“returns” on those investments to use in support of other public needs in
the future. Potentially, the combination of property and the other tax and fee
collections could produce millions of dollars a year above and beyond the
original investments. This is a
major reason why Performing Arts Centers do not fail.
10. Will a Performing
Arts Center likely produce millions in new business sales, hundreds of new jobs,
millions in income for citizens, and millions in government revenues…every
announcement of a Performing Arts Center likely will stimulate the
beginning of many years of business investments. The anticipation of very
large numbers of people from outside as well as inside the county coming to downtown
Tallahassee will drive it. A Performing Arts Center the size proposed for Tallahassee
typically schedules 300 – 400 events a year, at least.
By the time the
Tallahassee Performing Arts Center is built, Leon and adjacent counties will be
about the size of current day Madison, Wisconsin and its four adjacent
counties. Madison’s Overture Center (7 venues from 200 – 2,200 seats) produced
a documented economic impact (business sales) of $ 38 million in 2011.
The projection for
the new Greensboro Center (1 venue/1,800 seats) is about $ 13 million. These
are sales to out-of-county visitors.
A major “Arts Study” documented typical spending by visitors to Performing
Arts Centers from outside the local draw area. Thirty-three (33) percent is for performance/event
tickets, 25% for meals and refreshments, 17% for lodging, 12 % for souvenirs, 8
% for parking/transportation, 4 % for gifts/retail and 1 % for child care.
In addition to
out-of-county visitors, the Performing Arts Center itself and all
out-of-town performers and event support teams will spend money while in
Tallahassee. Gainesville’s Performing Arts Center documented over 1,500 room
nights are booked annually.
Investors and developers calculate market
opportunities that come with the above numbers. Madison’s downtown was
predominately government buildings until they announced plans to build The
Overture Center. Immediately, the private investments in downtown properties
began many years of escalation. Virginia Beach experienced the same phenomenon.
It is likely that most, if not all Performing Arts Centers throughout the USA, experienced
similar investment patterns.
The millions more in
“net” new sales, due to a Performing Arts Center, results in businesses
creating many more jobs. Madison’s
economic studies document the creation of 238 full time equivalent jobs (some
part time, some full time) in 2010.
Paducah documented the creation of 241 jobs in 2012. Greensboro expects
268 jobs to be created.
shows how a few “leading” investments can attract many people to an area and
consequently, more investments. The Gaines Street project, College Town and FSU
planned investments will have similar effects. Imagine the additional impact of
a Performing Arts Center & Education that draws many more thousands to
11. Is Tallahassee able
to support a successful Performing Arts Center?
fact, Tallahassee’s economic base, personal income levels, demographic profile,
social environment and educational levels are as good or better than almost all
comparable cities with a Performing Arts Center. Why would anyone think that
Tallahassee is not as capable as so many other cities?
12. Is the proposed Performing
Arts Center a unique facility for Tallahassee?
Yes. It’s size (1,700 seats) makes possible the ability
to attract very popular international and national performers and events
that, otherwise, likely would not appear in Tallahassee. Plus the design and
attractiveness of the facility is likely to be a magnet for internationally
and nationally popular musicals, dance groups, vocal artists and Broadway
performances, as well as local performing groups and individuals, public
school and university performances, community events, business, non-profit
group and citizen gatherings, family weddings and reunions and neighborhood and
civic group gatherings. These events and proud Tallahassee individual and
business contributors can produce revenue streams that can limit or eliminate
public funding, eventually.
13. Is including the Performing
Arts Center on the 1 Penny Sales Tax list sensible?
Yes. It sends a strong message
to potential private investors (citizens and businesses). They will know that a Performing Arts Center is
a distinct possibility if there is government support because without it, a proposed
Performing Arts Center is unlikely to find 100% private funding.
Knowing this, a
public-private partnership is definitely a way to build and operate a
Tallahassee Performing Arts Center.
The 1 Penny sales
tax referendum may be 3 or more years away. It is certainly possible that community
education efforts plus support building in the community and a more optimistic economy
can result in its passage, comfortably.
There is sufficient time
for the Tallahassee/Leon County to become comfortable with final numbers,
concerning a Performing Arts Center, see private “match” money accumulate and
isolate serious business support that can assure the construction and operation
of a beautiful and functional Tallahassee Center for Performing Arts and
It seems prudent to
give the CPA a chance to do wonderful things for Tallahassee.