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A balanced note for the civic center, amphitheater and Jefferson Center.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
When construction work ends next month in Elmwood Park, Roanoke’s new amphitheater will be ready to complement, not compete with, other city concert halls. That’s the word from Robin Schon, Global Spectrum’s general manager at the Roanoke Civic Center.
Given Schon’s strong performance, her word can be taken to the bank.
The amphitheater can do what the civic center cannot: offer an outside venue that artists and audiences prefer during the summer. It will no more compete for the same acts and dollars with the civic center than the much-smaller Jefferson Center does. Each can fill a niche and work with the others to strengthen the number and types of acts drawn to Roanoke. None should be threatened by the others’ success.
During a recent presentation to Roanoke City Council, Schon said she’s working with city staff and looks forward to using Global Spectrum’s buying power to book events at the amphitheater. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, the civic center brought in a record number of acts and increased the gate ($2.1 million through 276 ticketed events), reduced the budgeted taxpayer subsidy by about $58,000 and turned a $200,000 profit from concessions.
Since the city contracted with Global Spectrum to manage the civic center, the venue’s profile has been raised, attracting better acts, stronger ticket sales and a healthier bottom line.
Initially, city council had considered building a much larger amphitheater in partnership with another management company that might have competed with the civic center. But the recession scaled back plans — all the better for taxpayers and for allowing the amphitheater to be right-sized for this market.
Though ticket sales will eventually be used to define its success, the amphitheater’s debut will be on the house. On Oct. 19, it will host the Arts in the Parks’ finale, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and the Southwest Virginia Ballet performance of “Peter and the Wolf,” and offer a great chance to see what lies in store for the coming seasons.
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