Battle over Broadway Shows in Downtown Arts Center Spotlight
January 8, 2012 | WMFE - There's a battle over Broadway in Orlando. The leaders of the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts say they're going to bypass the city's long-time Broadway show presenter, the Florida Theatrical Association, to save money. But the FTA says there's more to the Orlando arts community than a bottom line.
[Image: Artist's rendering of Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts]
The new performing arts center’s Board of Directors recently announced it’ll bring in touring Broadway shows on its own to the under-construction venue, instead of booking through the Orlando-based Florida Theatrical Association. The FTA’s worked with the City of Orlando for 25 years, bringing the shows to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. Chuck Steinmetz, Operations Committee Chair for the Dr. Phillips Center, says the decision was strictly business.
“About 40 percent of the income that would be derived from all of the things that we do comes from the Broadway series," explains Steinmetz. "We don’t wish to share that with anybody, we wish to earn that ourselves. And by doing that, we can invest the money that we earn back into programs for the community that we ordinarily couldn’t do.”
But in an open letter to leaders of Orlando, Orange County and the local arts community, FTA president Ron Legler wrote he was surprised to learn his group would be left out. Legler says he's advised the Dr. Phillips Center since its planning stages.
FTA was also the only organization to apply for the job, but Legler doesn’t think the group's proposal got a fair shot. “I just don’t think the board has all the information it needs to understand what we offer, because we’ve never had an opportunity to go in front of them to tell them who we are and what we’ve done in the past.”
Legler says 80 percent of FTA’s proceeds go back into Orlando’s arts community. But, he adds, the Dr. Phillips Center’s decision to self-present casts the FTA in the role of “competitor” instead of “collaborator” – Legler says FTA hopes to find a new Orlando theatre and keep bringing in the lucrative Broadway shows.