The Performing Arts Businesses

“It’s no longer enough for performing arts centers to focus on what’s on stage,” said Lawrence P. Goldman, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s founder, president and CEO. So what else should they focus on? Two major performing arts centers are looking for new business opportunities.

Last week, Lincoln Center announced plans to act as adviser for developers of a new performing arts center in Tianjin, China. This is part of an effort by the Center to create a consulting business that would supplement ticket sales and donations.

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that PlayhouseSquare had become a major player in the commercial real estate business. PlayhouseSquare is the second-largest performing arts center in the country by audience, after Lincoln Center, of course. “The hallmark of PlayhouseSquare is that they realized a successful theater district could only work if there was a successful neighborhood,” Joe Roman said in an interview.

PlayhouseSquare, located in Cleveland, has had to work hard for a successful neighborhood. PlayhouseSquare Real Estate Services started out operating only PlayhouseSquare’s properties and now manages more than a million square feet of other properties throughout the Cleveland area. However, even Manhattan’s Lincoln Center has had to dedicate funding and attention to renovation of its local neighborhood on the Upper West Side. Both centers have recognized the benefits that come with participation in local real estate development.

“This model is not only right but smart because it secures the urban environment around the arts center,” Goldman says. Creating a successful performing arts center may require the creation of a whole new neighborhood that caters to the performing arts business. Perhaps the developers in Tianjin should keep this mind. Furthermore, the development of such a neighborhood may be a lucrative business opportunity in and of itself.

Read “A Model of Economic Viability for the Arts” at The Wall Street Journal

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