Performing Arts Center
Arts and culture is a key component of the local economy and generates returns to the public sector. Guilford County’s cultural institutions host more than 1 million visitors annually, resulting in more than $30M in economic activity and $1.3M in local tax revenue. On average, Guilford County residents come downtown four times per year to visit cultural institutions, and four times to browse local arts.
A performing arts center (PAC) has been under consideration for downtown some time. Recommendations regarding a concert hall were made in Cooper Carry’s 2002 Center City Plan, Artec’s 2003 Concert Hall Planning Study , and HR&A Advisors’ 2008 Church Street Investment Strategy.
While PACs generate net benefits, they often require financial support. The Durham PAC hosted more than 300,000 visitors and generated more than $11M in economic activity in its first year of operations. However, its $48M construction was funded entirely by public dollars. The same is true for Charlotte’s Blumenthal PAC, which generates $52M in economic activity annually, while its $62M construction came from public and philanthropic sources, and it continues to receive an operating subsidy.
PACs must meet unmet demand based on size and programming. Any new performance space must be carefully designed to provide spaces that will encourage new activity without cannibalizing from existing facilities.Several locations currently offer mid size venues, with 1,000 to 2,400 seats, where locally based music and performing arts organizations are resident. However, the Aycock Auditorium is at capacity and the War Memorial Auditorium is in need of significant renovation. Additional demand exists for a large format venue, with 2,800-3,600 seats, to attract high-profile music and theater events. Touring shows evaluate locations based on potential gross revenue assuming sold out shows. Therefore, a larger theater will be more effective in competing for acts and will have greater revenue potential.
A downtown PAC will be best positioned for success. Most cities locate PACs downtown because they are high profile symbols of the city’s prestige and commitment to the arts. In addition, PACs drive spending at local businesses; visitors to Greensboro’s arts events typically spend $17 (in addition to ticket cost) on dining, shopping and transportation. This compares to $30 per visitor nationally, indicating untapped potential for event related spending in Greensboro. This is particularly important because non local visitors typically spend twice as much as local visitors, and these are net new dollars to the economy. (The War Memorial Auditorium is in need of significant renovations. It could be successfully repositioned as an amateur sporting destination because these events require more space and parking, draw a primarily local crowd, and drive less ancillary demand.)
Find out the latest on the proposed Greensboro Performing Arts Center by visiting the new website of www.gpac2012.com.