Can you hear sucking sounds from the BCPA?

By:  Diane Benjamin

That would be – sucking up your tax dollars!

June event reports:

Read the Executive Director’s Comments.  Some shows were Free Free Free!  How did the “free” Gothic at Midnight show have revenues of exactly $10,000?

Bloomington is now pretending to be Normal where people have to be lured downtown by free.  Your taxes are higher because free is never free.

The only show with a profit had 186 people attending.  Little Black Dress:  $601.89.




10 thoughts on “Can you hear sucking sounds from the BCPA?

  1. So the entertainment losses for the Steampunk Festival cost $18,088.93. So that’s a loss of $18.09 per person, if 1,000 people did truly attend.

    Out of those 1,000, how many actually stayed in town and then ate out and paid the high taxes charged on those? Say it’s 200. That would mean each of those people would have to generate $90.45 in City of Bloomington taxes on their activities here to break even on what the event losses were.

    I would love for one of these reports to say: we had this event. It failed. We won’t do something like it again.

    1. Not gonna happen. There are some politically connected people involved in the organizing and planning of the Steampunk Festival. (Check out some event pictures, you’ll recognize a few faces.) They’ve managed to convince themselves that the event is a boost for our local economy and the Downtown. Yeah, right!

  2. Beyond the usual and obvious problems with the BCPA is how events are booked. Granted, the size of the venue limits what shows can be booked as well as management of the acts. However, one glaring fact that is never mentioned is that the executive directors, past and present, we’re always looking for shows that they personally wanted to see appear. Often offbeat acts that even some arts lovers wouldn’t even want to see. These people are clueless. They believe old standard plays or music acts are passe because they have no interest in them personally. They are more apt to go after something that would play in the village in NYC that no one but them and their friends have ever heard of. Check out the offerings season after season. Most of it is stuff you have never heard or so off the wall only a handful of people would even consider attending.

  3. It’s possible the $10,000 came from sponsorship(s) or how BCPA allocated sponsorships. Regardless, the BCPA is the biggest problem the City has financially….yes, I’d say its even bigger than the Arena. Yet it’s always been the Arena that got the headlines and allowed the BCPA to fly under the radar. I do believe the past and current mgmt at the Arena ARE trying to perform financially (at least somewhat – even though they are not successful), whereas the mgmt of the BCPA HAS NEVER, and fundamentally does not believe they should, worry about finances. That to me is far worse.

    1. Great points, James. The BCPA has very little transparency. Sponsorship and vendors are obscured and otherwise unaccountable. They also likely had to pass the “right fit” test, meaning friends of government. Economics and basic budgeting don’t matter to the City or the artsy “cultured” crowd. The BCPA leadership strategy for booking acts is to throw darts at names on the dartboard. At this point, they should have years worth of solid data on which acts make money and which don’t. If they really wanted to be successful, they’d try to book more mainstream acts that people have heard of or that are otherwise sellable to the general public. This boggles the mind. The BCPA crowd is screaming about how they’re an integral part of the quality of life appeal, yet go out of their way to avoid engaging the common person. At present, the BCPA is a taxpayer-subsidized country club for politically connected upper-middle-class white people who convince each other that they are cultured simply by attending a performance by an act no one has heard of. It creates something of a reverse Robinhood dynamic whereby the working poor are taxed more and more to subsidize entertainment for the relatively well off.

  4. Agreed BN. It’s pretty simple math. They have about 1100 seats. Being generous let’s say the max average ticket price the BN market would support to sell all 1100 tickets is probably about $60. $60 avg x 1100 = $66,000 in max ticket revenue for a show. If they average 1 beverage or food item sold per person (again being generous) at $4 there’s another $4400 in gross revenue, so let’s say $70,000 is max revenue not counting donations or sponsorships. That means you probably couldn’t spend more than about $50,000 for the artist which would leave $20,000 to cover the cost the artist charges, the overhead of utilities, the costs to actually put on the show and the overhead of the salaries for the rest of the staff. Not much room there for a profit after those expenses.

    The additional problem is that the acts that would interest the BN market to sell 1100 tickets charge WAY more than $50,000 or have no interest in performing in a venue with only 1100 seats. Plus the promoters of those acts may negotiate a share of ticket sales.

    It’s a failed model to begin with if the interest is to make a profit. Thus why no private company has come forward to run it. The venue would have to be totally changed and run more like the Castle Theatre…..but that is sacrilege the artsy crowd you mention.

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