The Center Seeks First-Ever Corporate Naming Partner
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Last month, the Center for the Performing Arts announced its intention to seek its first-ever corporate naming sponsor. As the nonprofit educational, arts and cultural organization approaches its 10th anniversary, it has proven to be an “indispensable asset to economic development” and contributor to the quality of life in Carmel and its surrounding communities.
We sat down with the center’s president/CEO, Jeffrey C. McDermott, to discuss this initiative and the overall status of the center as it approaches a monumental milestone—a decade of excellence.
The naming rights campaign stems from a strategic planning process undertaken by the center’s staff and board of directors—a group of strategic, well-respected community leaders. IEG, a leading sponsorship consultancy, conducted an independent analysis of the naming assets to help guide the center.
“This [naming rights campaign] is something that we have been working toward for some time and is not just an idea that we just came up with,” McDermott explained. “It has been contemplated by our strategic plan, which our entire board and management team put together about two years ago.”
Why Is Now the “Right” Time?
McDermott further explained why now is the “right time” to seek out and align the center with a corporate naming partner.
“The plan has been that we have to have a great product and a great history,” McDermott said. “Albeit, ours is a short one at just nine years, but we have to have both of those to be attractive enough to be in a position to where we are able to find a corporate sponsor who truly wants to partner with us, brand with us and interact with us. The timing is perfect right now because we have had multiple years of being well in the black on our budget, we have had performances/shows that have been selling better than we’ve ever sold before and we’ve had more sellouts than ever before.”
McDermott went on to say that the center has also had more diversity of programing, more educational programming and a more impressive number of new patrons than ever before.
“When you look at the success that we’ve had and you look at the timing of that success in connection with our strategic plan, we are right on target with where we wanted to be financially,” McDermott emphasized. “We’re on very solid ground, but the business side of me says that anytime you’re in a great financial position, it is also a great time to diversify your financial position to make it even stronger, and I think our board has agreed.”
McDermott continued, “Our board is filled with very bright, capable and passionate businesspeople who understand that they have a fiduciary responsibility to be very prudent with our resources and to grow our resources. And one way to grow resources is to diversify with a significant naming partner who will activate with us in ways that are yet to be seen. We’re very excited about that.”
How a Naming Partner Would Benefit Programming
One of many benefits provided by having a corporate naming partner would be the expansion of the center’s educational programming offerings, already an impressive list of programs that appeal to a wide demographic, though McDermott is immensely proud of what the center currently offers and is even more excited for what’s to come.
“We have a continuum of care [at the center],” McDermott said. “We have educational programming for people ranging from ages 2 to 92. The Peanut Butter and Jam program brings in toddlers who experience music, musical instruments and artists for the first time in their lives. And at this year’s World Voice Day, we had the most senior gentlemen that had participated in our vocal classes and decided to perform at World Voice Day and perform on stage for the very first time at age 92. We have ukulele classes, stand-up comedy classes, family programming, and as we head into our 10th anniversary year, we’re going to bump that up even more.”
Looking Ahead at the Center’s Future
While McDermott, the center’s board and staff are stewarding the center through its current strategic plan and upcoming 10-year extravaganza, they are also planning for the future of the center and vetting carefully who the corporate naming partner will be to ensure that both parties are aligned in the mission, values and goals that McDermott and the board have put into place.
“The ‘right fit’ is someone who’s going to share our mission, our values and share the dedication to excellence in everything that we do,” McDermott said. “And maybe more importantly, one who is going to activate with us. What I mean by that is, it will be someone who is not just going to associate and co-brand with us but someone who will be a true partner with us and not just a naming partner.”
When prompted to share what the center’s 10-year celebration might look like, McDermott replied, “Next year we will be unveiling what we’re calling our 10-year anniversary season. While we’re in the beginning of our ninth year, significant planning is already underway. As we approach the anniversary and look back at the great 10 years and the growth and success that we’ve had, we will turn the page to the future and look forward—not just at the next decade but many decades ahead—and securing our first corporate naming sponsor will help secure our future.”
McDermott said that everyone can expect to take this season—an inarguably successful and spectacular season—and “put it on steroids.”
“Right now, we are in what I believe—and I’ve heard many of our patrons, board members and others express the same to me—the best season that we’ve had in terms of just total diversity of programming, name recognition of artists and quality of artists. Our community can expect to see more headliners— bigger headliners—and more innovative programming, more special events, more recognition and promotion of our educational programming and growth. I think it will be really hard to be anywhere in Central Indiana and not know about the Center for the Performing Arts.”
Visit the center’s website for more general or programming information at thecenterpresents.org.