Eccles, Egyptian recap summer, look forward to fall
August 27, 2010
The past two years have proved to be a trying time for local arts organizations. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? The Park City Performing Arts Foundation (PCPAF) and the Egyptian Theatre believe there is and they are entering the fall season with new lineups and a new outlook on the future.
Park City Performing Arts Foundation
PCPAF has presented four concerts as part of its Big Stars, Bright Nights series at Deer Valley over the past two months. The most recent Earth, Wind & Fire on Aug. 20 marked the first sold-out show in three years, said Executive Director Teri Orr.
"We’re certainly encouraged this summer as compared to last summer," Orr said. "We’ve had strong audiences for all of our shows."
PCPAF announced earlier this month it will kick off its 2010-2011 Eccles Center season on Oct. 16 with JP, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys, a new project by The Pretender’s frontwoman Chrissie Hynde.
Orr said she is in negotiations to confirm other shows and hopes to announce the full season on Sept. 15.
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PCPAF will host the final Big Stars, Bright Nights concert, featuring Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses with Crooked Still and Sara Watkins, on Monday, Sept. 6.
"I predict that’s going to be one of my personal favorite shows of the summer," Orr said.
The nonprofit will also reinvigorate its Mega Genius Supply Store and IQ HQ, which offers an after-school literacy enhancement program, with a community open house on Sept. 1. Orr expects to announce new programming and collaborations with other nonprofits in the coming months.
As to whether the economy has rounded a corner, Orr isn’t sure. She is, however, confident that PCPAF is staying afloat. "We just appreciate so many people who, as their financial situations improve, are returning to supporting the arts in Park City," she said.
The Egyptian Theatre
Chris Aall, chairman of the Egyptian Theatre board of trustees, expressed similar sentiments in a phone interview on Monday.
"I can’t say right now that we’re flush with cash and we’re building an endowment. It’s still struggle from show to show, but we have a lot to look forward to and I think we’re in good shape," he said. "It’s a bumpy road, and the more support we can get, the better off we’ll be."
The Egyptian presented a variety of one-night shows throughout the summer in addition to a five-week performance of "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical."
"’Hair’ went really well," Aall said. "The first weekend wasn’t a full sellout, but as soon as the word got around, it sold out for the rest of its run. It was something kind of edgy, but everyone I talked to coming out of it really appreciated it."
The show, which was underwritten up front, generated ticket sales amounting to about $75,000, Aall said. That’s the biggest revenue from a single production since he has been involved at the theater.
Still, the ticket sales barely covered production costs and did not cover marketing and other expenses. "Even with a big production like ‘Hair,’ with 270 seats in the theater, the ticket sales just don’t cut it, particularly when we’re selling them at $20 to $22 apiece," he explained.
After subtracting expenses from total ticket sales combined with sponsorship monies and concession sales, the theater made about $65,000 from the production, Aall said. "All in all, we’re very happy with the results."
A portion of the profit went toward purchasing a $30,000 audio setup, he noted. "Audio was always a weak link we had," he said. "We have a whole new speaker and audio system and it’s just amazing how much better it is now."
The remaining revenue from the show will be applied to overhead costs including payroll, maintenance, utilities, marketing and rent. The theater recently hired more tech staff and enlisted marketing support.
Overall, Aall considers the theatre to be in a good place financially. "I felt that we had plenty of risk going into the summer, but it worked out very well," he said.
The Egyptian will host its Season Selection Party for invited guests on Sept. 10 and Aall expects the full season to be announced at the theater’s public meeting in late September.
"We have a great season coming," he said. "We feel now that we have things under control and we are ready to commit to the season in the hope that sponsors will commit along with us so that we can get back to the way of running the theater in the way that people are used to."
Fall shows that have been announced include the "Great American Trailer Park Musical" Sept. 17 through Oct. 3 and Odyssey Dance Theatre’s "Thriller" Oct. 6-10. Youth theater classes start Sept. 13 and the Golf Scramble & Social fundraiser will be held at The Homestead Resort on Sept. 12.
Aall mentioned that without support from local businesses and individuals, the theater would not be where it is today. "We’re still very dependent on our supporters," he said. "Southwest Airlines has been a huge part of our recovery. These key partnerships that we have are so important to us we can’t do it on our own."