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Friday August 12th

Carolina Performing Arts takes a break in January to ready for spring season

This month is relatively empty for Carolina Performing Arts.

Rather than its usual four or five performances per month, Carolina Performing Arts presented only one performance in January.

But for performing arts presenters, this trend is normal.

“It’s an opportunity to take a breath before diving into the spring season,” said Erin Hanehan, artistic coordinator for the executive office for the arts.

Earlier this month, Hanehan went to New York City for the Association of Performing Arts Presentation Conference with 4,000 other delegates from peer organizations.

“It’s really the one time we get to meet up with them face-to-face,” said Marnie Karmelita, director of artist relations for the executive office for the arts.

Karmelita said an empty January is common for performing arts presenters because they are dependent on the artists, who in December and January are often unavailable.

“It comes down to artist availability and tours going on now,” she said. “As a producer, you’re more in control.”

As a performing arts producer, PlayMakers Repertory Company is less dependent on artist availability because the plays are produced and performed in the area.

“PlayMakers Repertory is built from the ground up,” said Connie Mahan, director of marketing and communications for PlayMakers.

The company will produce two plays in January — “The Making of a King: Henry IV & Henry V,” which will premiere in repertory beginning Jan. 28, and “No Child…” which premiered on its secondary stage, PRC2, Jan. 11.

Ellen James, marketing manager for the executive office for the arts, said the small town location of Carolina Performing Arts presents some challenges.

“It’s one of the problems of not living in New York or Los Angeles or where many artists live,” she said.

For last week’s presentation of Brooklyn Rider and The Knights, 531 out of 1,434 available tickets were sold, earning $14,491, James said.

Last January, classical pianist Mitsuko Uchida performed, selling 1,233 tickets and bringing in $54,795. There were also two shows with classical and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, which together sold 2,581 tickets and brought in $150,434.

She said that Brooklyn Rider and The Knights had less name recognition and a different fan base than Uchida or Marsalis.

The single performance in January, though it might lead to less relative revenue, is part of the larger budget plan, James said.

“Our budget is a big picture where we’re looking at September through April as a whole.”

Carolina Performing Arts is functioning on a $4.5 million budget for the 2011-2012 season. Ticket sales account for about $1.5 million of that budget.

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