The Center for the Performing Arts on Moving Onward and Upward

June 2021

The Center for the Performing Arts has announced its 2021–22 season lineup, and in typical fashion, the Center continues to raise the bar, showcasing a rather diverse season with acts and performances representing an array of genres and phenomenal artists from all over the globe.

I spoke with the Center’s CEO/President Jeff McDermott about the Center’s ability to “pivot” its services throughout the pandemic and the excitement building up for this coming season.

Success Amid the Pandemic

The Center never completely halted its engines—it merely dropped into a lower gear. While standing on the stage for the Michael Feinstein and Melissa Manchester live-audience concert last month, McDermott shared his emotions as he looked out onto the socially distanced audience that was peppered throughout the Palladium’s magnificent hall.

“To have people back in the hall and to have applause back in the hall was an incredible feeling,” McDermott shared. “You didn’t really realize how much you missed it until it came back. There is no question that everybody in the world was impacted in all sorts of ways by this pandemic. But the arts were impacted in ways that were indescribable. The business model of the arts organizations is to take large groups of people and put them in spaces to enjoy an artist, and we [the Center] simply couldn’t do that.”

The Center for the Performing Arts

The Center did not furlough any of its full-time employees last year and weathered the storm with the unwavering support and generosity of its donors and corporate partners. McDermott also credits his team for creating innovative ways to meet their patrons where they were and for finding ways to maintain their mission throughout a global pandemic.

“I want to give my team here a lot of credit for pivoting and coming up with new and different—sometimes better—ways to deliver value to the Center’s corporate partners and to deliver its mission to its patrons,” McDermott stated. “Our board members have supported us through the challenges, literally every day.”

McDermott continued, “One of the things I am most proud of is that we never shut down. We continued to advance our mission and kept the engine running, though we turned it down a little bit and put it into a slightly lower gear, which will make it much easier to put it back into a higher gear as we continue to evolve out of COVID-19. There’s no way that we could have done that without the support of our donors and corporate partners.”

With the introduction of the Center’s Live at the Center series, the Center was able to provide live streaming opportunities for all of its resident companies and for local and regional artists. McDermott shared that their average livestream audience reach was 1,100 people per performance.

“We’ve decided to continue [the Live at the Center] series into the next season, even though we fully expect to provide a full season without any [COVID-19] restrictions,” McDermott stated optimistically. “We had local and regional artists lining up for the opportunity once they saw what we are able to provide for them. It has been really gratifying not just to see our team rise to the occasion but gratifying to see local artists excited to present their art and excited for the platform that we have been able to give them.”

Excited for What’s to Come

While the Center’s plans for the new season are fluid, McDermott emphasized that the goal is to kick the season into high gear this September, hopefully without any pandemic restrictions.

“With our fingers crossed, we plan to have a very full season with full audiences,” McDermott said. “Clearly, the artists are hungry [for live audiences], and we’re hungry to bring them back. We have roughly 35 shows already booked, and it’s a really diverse season. It has been a different booking season because of COVID-19, and we’ve got another 30-plus offers that are pending and waiting for tours to line themselves up. So as excited as we are with the season that we’ve put together so far, I’m equally excited about what’s to come.”

Ben Folds

The Center’s Annual Gala Status

At the time that the Center’s board and staff had to make critical decisions regarding its annual gala and fundraiser, McDermott shared that there were too many unknowns with regard to the pandemic to gamble on.

“You make the best decisions that you can with the information that you have at the time,” McDermott said. “There are a lot of expenses associated with the gala and with artists that we bring in. There was too much money that would have been invested without enough confidence that we were going to be able to do a live gala and do it safely.”

Having participated in and observed other virtual galas, McDermott and his staff are confident that the Center’s virtual gala will be unique and will utilize the Center’s top-notch broadcast production capabilities.

“We have abilities to do a virtual gala like nobody else has,” McDermott expressed. “The gala will be the highest quality gala anybody has seen in a virtual format. As it is our major fundraiser, there is going to be fundraising aspects to it, certainly, but it’s going to be an entertainment gala. We’ll have Michael Feinstein and other celebrity appearances and some very exciting surprises. It’s going to be a ‘must-see’ event!”

So, don’t wait another day—purchase your subscriptions and/or tickets today and join us in celebrating more than a decade of performing arts at The Center for the Performing Arts and a return to live entertainment with our fellow community members.

Visit thecenterpresents.org for a complete list of upcoming shows, programs and to purchase your tickets.

The Center Presents 2021–22 Highlights

BEN FOLDS IN ACTUAL PERSON LIVE FOR REAL TOUR: FRI, NOV 12 AT 8 PM, KATZ, SAPPER & MILLER POP/ROCK SERIES

RANDY RAINBOW LIVE: THU, OCT 7 AT 7:30 PM, FAEGRE DRINKER ENCORE SERIES

PINK MARTINI FEATURING CHINA FORBES: SAT, OCT 23 AT 8 PM, TELAMON PASSPORT SERIES

CLINT BLACK: SUN, OCT 24 AT 7 PM, COUNTRY SERIES

SEAN CHEN: FRI, NOV 19 AT 8 PM, PRINTING PARTNERS CLASSICAL SERIES

DAVE KOZ CHRISTMAS: SAT, DEC 11 AT 8 PM, HOLIDAY SERIES

AN EVENING WITH DAVID SEDARIS: WED, DEC 15 AT 7:30 PM, SPECIAL EVENTS

DAVID WILLIAMSON: SAT, JAN 22 AT 2 PM & 8 PM, FAMILY SERIES

THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF GEORGE MICHAEL: SAT, MAR 5 AT 8 PM, KATZ, SAPPER & MILLER POP/ROCK SERIES

CROCE PLAYS CROCE: SAT, MAR 19 AT 8 PM, KATZ, SAPPER & MILLER POP/ROCK SERIES

LAS CAFFETERAS: FRI, APR 8 AT 7:30 PM, TELAMON PASSPORT SERIES

MATTHEW WHITAKER: SAT, APR 30 AT 8 PM, DREWRY SIMMONS VORNEHM JAZZ SERIES

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN WITH SANDI PATTY: SAT, MAY 7 AT 8 PM, HOOSIER VILLAGE SONGBOOK SERIES