The Proposed Tallahassee Center for Performing Arts & Education
by Glenn W. Robertson
following Q&As are based on substantial related research. Many more
Are there cities in
Florida similar in size to Tallahassee/Leon that have Performing Arts
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),
N.C., South Bend, Indiana, Virginia Beach, VA, Green Bay, Wisconsin and
many, many more.
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
to sustain Performing Arts Centers across the United States.
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
positive story. If this story can be relayed effectively to citizens,
quite possible and likely that a majority of citizens will be impressed
supportive of having a Performing Arts Center in Tallahassee.
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
million as their share of a public-private partnership to build the
Arts Center. Individuals, businesses and
other groups now know that the Performing Arts Center will be a reality
collectively do their part. Citizen (e.g.
cash and estate distributions) and business contributions are now much
likely because the City verified its commitment. In addition, the
public funds can generate public-private business financing
can likely guarantee a successful Performing Arts Center.
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
become available and current revenue sources increase with the
high quality performances and events.
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
and expanded private business investments after a city announces
to build a Performing Arts Center. This results in growth in downtown
purchases (for residential and commercial uses), continually increasing
values and continually increasing collections of property taxes for
the city, county and school district. In addition, sales taxes, bed
occupational licenses, permit fees, rental car fees, filing fees and
governmental revenues are produced because a CPA is built and then
If Tallahassee/Leon invests $ 30 million towards the Performing Arts
construction ( $ 52 million total cost estimate) and about $ 650,000 a
(about 12% of the total) to help cover operating costs, it is likely
within 15 years those contributions will more than be replaced with the
mentioned tax and fee collections. Every year thereafter, it is
likely that all local governments and the state government will receive
“returns” on those investments to use in support of other public needs
the future. Potentially, the combination of property and the other tax
collections could produce millions of dollars a year above and beyond
original investments. This is a
major reason why Performing Arts Centers do not fail.
Will a Performing
Arts Center likely produce millions in new business sales, hundreds of
millions in income for citizens, and millions in government
announcement of a Performing Arts Center likely will stimulate the
beginning of many years of business investments. The anticipation of
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
typically schedules 300 – 400 events a year, at least.
By the time the
Tallahassee Performing Arts Center is built, Leon and adjacent counties
about the size of current day Madison, Wisconsin and its four adjacent
counties. Madison’s Overture Center (7 venues from 200 – 2,200 seats)
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.
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
% for parking/transportation, 4 % for gifts/retail and 1 % for child
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
Tallahassee. Gainesville’s Performing Arts Center documented over 1,500
nights are booked annually.
Investors and developers
opportunities that come with the above numbers. Madison’s downtown was
predominately government buildings until they announced plans to build
Overture Center. Immediately, the private investments in downtown
began many years of escalation. Virginia Beach experienced the same
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
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
consequently, more investments. The Gaines Street project, College Town
planned investments will have similar effects. Imagine the additional
a Performing Arts Center & Education that draws many more thousands
Is Tallahassee able
to support a successful Performing Arts Center?
fact, Tallahassee’s economic base, personal income levels, demographic
social environment and educational levels are as good or better than
comparable cities with a Performing Arts Center. Why would anyone think
Tallahassee is not as capable as so many other cities?
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
that, otherwise, likely would not appear in Tallahassee. Plus the
attractiveness of the facility is likely to be a magnet for
and nationally popular musicals, dance groups, vocal artists and
performances, as well as local performing groups and individuals,
school and university performances, community events, business,
group and citizen gatherings, family weddings and reunions and
civic group gatherings. These events and proud Tallahassee individual
business contributors can produce revenue streams that can limit or
public funding, eventually.
It seems prudent to
give the CPA a chance to do wonderful things for Tallahassee.