McCoy center to contract with CAPA for daily operations
Instead of hiring a new director, the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts board plans to contract for operations with the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts.
"We looked at the pros and cons of our business model," said McCoy center board member David Martin. "We've been doing this for five years and we decided to rethink how we are doing things.
"We agreed to give it a shot and form an agreement with CAPA to manage the McCoy center and truly be a backroom operator to help with programming, ticketing, marketing and human resources."
He said the 14 members of the McCoy center board unanimously voted Dec. 18 to contract with CAPA.
The McCoy center, which opened in February 2008, already contracts for some services, such as accounting, and has some in-house staff working on other services, such as public relations and ticket sales.
Martin said Interim Director Mike Morris left at the end of December and the McCoy will contract with CAPA for the next six months through the end of the center's fiscal year in June. During that time period, no staffing changes will be made at the McCoy center, Martin said.
Martin said the McCoy center has a $750,000 annual budget, which is not expected to change. CAPA will have to work within that budget, he said.
As for the agreement, CAPA does not disclose the financial terms of any contract, said CAPA spokeswoman Rolanda Copley.
Bill Conner, president and CEO of CAPA, will serve as interim director of the McCoy center through July. He said he will work to determine the most efficient way the McCoy can operate.
"Our staff will all still be there, with CAPA working with them," Martin said. "For the time being nothing will change, although it's possible some of them may go to work for CAPA or they (CAPA) might choose to just manage our staff."
In July, the McCoy center board is expected to enter into a two- to five-year operating contract with CAPA.
The McCoy center board formed a search committee after the former director, Ted DeDee, left in March to accept a position as president and chief executive officer of Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wis.
The search committee included: Jim Bachmann, Jill Beckett-Hill, Eloise DiPietra, Francie Henry, Hope Wolman, Matt Kallner, Lynn Redgrave and Marcy Schaffir.
The McCoy center board includes Martin, the search committee members and Jerry Allen, Christy Arenschield, Cici Fellows, Mark Ryan and Mick Roger. It is a 15-member board, but one seat is vacant.
Martin said the board did not want to spend money to hire a consultant to help with the search so the committee advertised in trade publications and received 70 applicants for the position. Fifteen people were interviewed when the committee also began talking to CAPA.
CAPA is a nonprofit organization formed in 1969 to save the Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus. It now owns and manages the Ohio Theatre, the Palace Theatre, the Southern Theatre and the four theaters in the Vern Riffe center for government and the arts. It also provides marketing, public relations, finance, human resources, information technology and fundraising services for other local arts groups, according to the CAPA website.
Martin said it soon became clear that the McCoy center, which was built as a joint venture between the New Albany-Plain Local Schools, the city of New Albany, Plain Township and the New Albany Community Foundation, requires a director who can juggle all local interests, which is what CAPA already does.
"Given the fact that we have a diverse user community, with schools, local arts groups, other organizations renting the space and McCoy center presentations, it was complicated to have our own staff triangulating between all these groups, and that's sort of what CAPA does," Martin said.
Conner said the McCoy center is unique because of the partnership and an agreement with the school district for usage but CAPA is used to working with school districts and operating facilities with resident arts organizations and different usage requirements.
He cited CAPA's management of the Ohio Theatre, which has two arts organizations with use agreements for the facility.
"A sense of priority has to be given to particular arts organizations, in this instance the school district," Conner said.
Throughout the process, Martin said the search committee consulted with the McCoy center partners.
"We're really excited about the possibilities," said Plain Township Trustee Dave Olmstead.
Martin said programming could expand with CAPA and Conner agreed, saying CAPA's proposal to the McCoy center board included "a lot more national, marquee-type acts."
Conner said CAPA has purchasing power because of the national acts booked through CAPA for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra's Picnic with the Pops and other performances.
"That gives us a lot of economies of scale," Conner said.
He said CAPA officials would like to expand the audience of the McCoy center.
Martin said McCoy board members hope CAPA can do that, as well as help secure funding partners outside New Albany.
"We hope this will increase our ability to secure sponsorships and become part of the wider Columbus community and become attractive to funding sources in other ZIP codes," Martin said.