Residents know little about Performing Arts Center, study finds
By Shannon Pettypiece
Most Miami-Dade County residents know little about the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami, a recent study shows, and many are not interested in shows by its four tenants.
The study by Market Segment Group consisted of four focus groups and 1,500 one-hour phone conversations in July and August with residents 25 to 79 years old who have attended at least one performance of one of the resident companies and earn more than $40,000 a year.
One of the focus groups consisted of people who have never attended a performance by one of the resident companies.
"Non-attendees know absolutely nothing. They are truly a blank slate," said Valerie Shalom Berman, director of the study. "There is a significant population that is not aware of the Performing Arts Center at all."
Michael Hardy, CEO of the Performing Arts Center Trust, said he is surprised at how little some people know about the center under construction on Biscayne Boulevard between 13th and 14th streets and will adjust his marketing campaign to reach a broader audience.
"It is not entirely a surprise that they don't know much about it, but it is surprising how little they know. I mean, they practically know nothing," Mr. Hardy said.
"We know non-attendees comprise 30% to 40% of the population, so that is a sizable percentage of the population that knows nothing about it."
Concert attendees who participated in a focus group said they were familiar with the project but have a negative impression of the center based on what they have read and heard in the media regarding construction and work delays and related costs.
"Of the small amount of information available in the media, the information that tends to stick in the minds of the people is negative," Ms. Berman said last week.
The construction cost for the project is $255 million, but the value is about $370 million, which includes construction costs, donated land, the center's endowment and other miscellaneous expenses.
Miami-Dade County residents are looking for more variety and performances outside the traditional fine-arts spectrum as well as more family-oriented events, according to the study.
"Those individuals who are subscribers or attendees to traditional arts want to attend these programs, but they are also looking for increased quality and variety and options outside existing genres," Ms. Berman said.
Most people surveyed said they wanted to go to Broadway musicals and pop concerts. Next on list of preferences were the opera and ballet. Symphony concerts were the least-popular among season-ticket subscribers, single-ticket holders and non-attendees.
Hispanics are the least likely to attend operas, musicals, theater or the symphony. But Hispanics are more likely than other ethnic groups to go to jazz, Latin, big-band and family-oriented concerts and willing to donate money to an arts center.
Mr. Hardy said the majority of programming will be unrelated to the center's four resident companies - the New World Symphony, the Concert Association of Florida, the Miami City Ballet and the Florida Grand Opera.
Based on the length of each resident companies' seasons, 70% of bookings will be for other performers - Broadway musicals, cultural groups, pop artists, comedians, magicians and collaborations between the resident companies and other acts, Mr. Hardy said.
He said the study's findings reinforced plans to reach outside Miami for programming.
While the Broward Center for the Performing Arts has been the main venue in South Florida for Broadway musicals, Mr. Hardy said, there will be a partnership between the two centers to coordinate programming.
The center will start booking acts by late December or early next year, said Performing Arts Center spokeswoman Jodi Paradise.
The study also found that women are more likely to buy season concert tickets but need flexible packages so they can exchange tickets if they miss a show.
"Women are the decision makers and express high level of interest but have time constraints," Ms. Berman said. "One could devote their entire marketing budget to just women and be very satisfied."
Mr. Hardy said the data will help the center develop a branding strategy and ad campaign that will target women especially.
"When you are marketing, you want to communicate to the person making the decision to buy the ticket, which are women," Mr. Hardy said.
The study, commissioned by the Performing Arts Center Trust, cost $150,000 and was funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation.
Parking, restaurants, bars and retail stores are among amenities study participants said they want at the center. Most people said they want covered parking attached to the center, but 45% said they are willing to walk several blocks to get to the center.
Up to 70% of respondents said they would go to nearby retail shops, and women were enthusiastic about a gift shop at the center.
The study found the venue of choice for Miami-Dade County residents is the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, followed by the Gusman Center's Olympia Theatre, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Lincoln Theatre and Actor's Playhouse.
The worst venues cited were Dade County Auditorium and Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts.