Thursday, November 15, 2007

[indyweek] That Empty Feeling

by Matt Saldaña
November 14, 2007

On a recent afternoon, New York City entertainment executives, Swedish developers and local politicians descended on South Mangum Street to watch a construction crew install the final beam on the $46 million Durham Performing Arts Center.

Before the ceremonial "topping out" of the city-owned theater, crowds strolled down a gravel path, past the exposed concrete of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Atrium, and onto an unfinished stage. From the rare vantage point of a young Simba or the Wicked Witch of the West, business bigwigs gazed out over concrete terracing that will eventually hold 2,800 seats. After applauding the project's timetable—DPAC is scheduled to host its opening night one year from now—they were asked, repeatedly, whether they might like to place their company's name on Durham's most ambitious public arts undertaking.

"We still have the naming rights available if anyone wants to step up to the plate," City Manager Patrick Baker told the well-dressed crowd of roughly 150.

Securing naming rights, worth millions of dollars, is one of many hurdles DPAC faces. The theater's financial goals and ticket prices are stratospheric—beyond what some observers say is feasible. And if the New England-based production company over DPAC chooses not to renew its agreement, the city could lose millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

[View the entire article at the Independent Weekly.]