New RBTL theater could boost all arts venues, consultant says 

A new report suggests that a new larger theater for the Rochester Broadway Theatre League can have a positive economic impact on other city arts venues. City officials commissioned the report from AMS Planning and Research, an arts and  entertainment consulting firm,  to study the new theater's financial impact on existing arts organizations.

Though the report is mostly positive, it may not ease worries that a new RBTL theater would siphon customers and funding away from the smaller arts venues. The report says the opposite is likely; that Rochester's arts community is healthy and growing and should continue to do so.

AMS found that over the last five years, not only has Rochester's arts community's revenue increased, much of the increase comes from what they called "earned revenue," ticket and concession sales, for instance, rather than contributed revenue from private donors and public funding.

AMS also looked at four markets similar to Rochester that have either built a performing arts center or expanded an existing one. The markets — Dayton, Ohio; Durham, North Carolina; Omaha, Nebraska; and St. Paul, Minnesota — have experienced mostly positive growth.

The report says there are ways that the new RBTL theater can support a diverse community of arts organizations and reduce its dark time in the new theater, concerns that were brought up by some leaders in the arts community.  But the report also considers how Rochester, similar to cities like Denver, Pittsburgh, and Mesa, Arizona, might create a tax  to build an additional funding source for arts and cultural organizations and events.

The AMS report was part of the city's consideration of the Rochester Broadway Theatre League's proposal for a new theater on Parcel 5, and a decision on that proposal was expected soon after the completion of the report. City spokesperson James Smith said this morning that city officials will now "digest the report" and talk with the proposed developers.

Mayor Lovely Warren had initially selected a joint proposal for the property from RBTL and Morgan Communities, which was to build an apartment tower adjacent to the theater. The future of the Morgan portion has been in doubt, however, since news broke that the FBI is investigating the company.


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