New Albany News

CAPA's first year at McCoy deemed a 'success'

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The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts is putting a new spin on events at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany after taking over its management in 2013.

CAPA Executive Director Bill Conner said the McCoy's annual fundraiser, the gala, will become more of a celebration of the center's community partners.

The McCoy Center Celebration will be held April 24. It will differ from the gala of previous years, which included a popular entertainer that required a fee.

"We're looking at the gala as more of a celebration of the McCoy, with a dinner on stage," Conner said. "It will feature residents and arts organizations."

Tickets are $500 for honorary committee members and $250 for others, according to the event invitation. A portion of the ticket price is tax-deductible because CAPA is a nonprofit organization.

Conner said the gala will celebrate what the McCoy is doing locally, partnering with community groups such as the New Albany Symphony Orchestra, which is using the Phelps House. The Phelps House on Johnstown Road served as the McCoy box office before CAPA took over ticket sales.

David Martin, president of the arts center's board of trustees, said the McCoy is partnering again this season with the New Albany Symphony Orchestra to share a guest artist.

Martin said the artist will be announced with the 2014-15 season in the coming weeks.

CAPA also is adding signage at the arts center. The McCoy received a waiver Sept. 9 from the New Albany Architectural Review Board to install an electronic sign at the northwest corner of Johnstown and Dublin-Granville roads.

Electronic signs are prohibited in that area of New Albany and in the urban center code, said Stephen Mayer, New Albany's city planner.

Mayer said city officials recommended the board approve the waiver but limit the sign to promote "ticketed and special events at the McCoy exclusively," according to his staff report. Mayer said the sign met the criteria for a waiver because it is "unique for the site and promotes a civic amenity."

The sign will be 4 feet high and 16 feet wide. It will display messages for 30 to 90 seconds and will not use flashing lights, animation or other flashing features.

Conner also talked to Plain Township trustees in March about a movie project that could be coming to the McCoy but declined to elaborate.

State officials confirmed the project last week when state Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) sent out a press release on the passage of Ohio House Bill 497, the state's capital budget bill. It includes "$50,000 for a new video-projection system" for the McCoy, the release said.

Rolanda Copley, CAPA's publicist, said CAPA "has to fundraise to match the $50,000 allocated for the video-projection equipment in order to be eligible to receive it."

The McCoy currently has no video-project equipment, Copley said. If CAPA were to obtain the projection system, it could "be used for a variety of events, including the opportunity to begin screening films at the McCoy," she said.

Conner said CAPA is working on next year's season and could not announce any programming at this point.

He did say that taking over operations of the McCoy last year went smoothly and CAPA sold out all five of its shows. It also sold 250 subscriptions and worked hard to make ticket sales and operations more efficient by moving them to CAPA's offices at 55 E. State St. in downtown Columbus.

Martin said when CAPA was hired in 2013, it took over programming, ticket sales, human resources and general theater operations.

"It was a great success," Martin said. "We're in the black and feel it was a very efficient use of our money."

When the deal was struck, officials from neither CAPA or the McCoy would disclose the terms of the contract.

Copley said CAPA does not "release contract details with any of our shared service organizations," and the McCoy "will never be reflected in CAPA's budget numbers, as it is not part of CAPA and is its own entity."

The arts center's partners, who helped to build the facility, still contribute funding. The partners are: New Albany, Plain Township, the New Albany-Plain Local School District and the New Albany Community Foundation.

Plain Township trustees on March 5 approved a $20,000 donation to the McCoy for funding.

The city of New Albany has $40,000 budgeted to donate to the McCoy in 2014, said city spokesman Scott McAfee. He said the city is contracted to provide $20,000 annually but it typically doubles the amount.

Conner said the school district pays heating and cooling costs of the theater and also funds daily maintenance because it is the largest user of the facility.

"We provide $200,000 annually as part of the budget planning for the McCoy," said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway. "We also provide custodial and maintenance services. We are a partner in the process with other entities but the facility is maintained by the school district."

The community foundation contributed $75,000 for the building's signage and $80,000 for a new concert grand piano in 2013, said Craig Mohre, the foundation's executive director. The community foundation will provide $320,000 annually for the next three years, he said.

Martin said CAPA is looking for donations from other sources, finding more sponsorship opportunities that benefit both CAPA and the McCoy.

"As we were looking for an executive director (in 2012) and the board was washing dishes and serving lunch, it was a model that was not sustainable," Martin joked.

Martin said it made sense to contract with CAPA for operations, which provided the full management services needed. It also gave CAPA a foothold in a suburban market and a smaller, 750-seat venue to manage.

"I think they just totally lived up to their promises and probably outperformed my expectations," Martin said.

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