Avoiding a Curtain - Call Hayes Center hires consultant amid financial concerns

Article Published: Oct. 22, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Avoiding a Curtain - Call Hayes Center hires consultant amid financial concerns

A month after the Hayes Performing Arts Center ceased operations, the Board of Trustees of the Blowing Rock Community Arts Center Foundation is still addressing financial issues and hoping to relaunch.

According to a press release issued by the arts center, a consultant has been meeting with the board. Prior to the closure, an arts management consultant was brought in to Blowing Rock with funds contributed from individual BRCAC Board members.

This consultant visited the Hayes Center three times, on a pro-bono (expenses only) basis to assess the financial condition and meet with staff, board and community leaders.

During the week of Oct. 12, individual BRCAC Board members again contributed funds to bring in arts management consultant Deidre Simmons to assess the community's interest in seeing the Hayes Center move forward. Simmons is a not-for-profit CEO and fund-raising professional with 28 years of experience, including 17 years as the CEO of the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, PA.

The Fulton is a professional, Equity theatre. Her expertise includes board governance, historic theatre renovation, mergers and acquisitions, chief executive searches and economic development through the arts.

According to the press release, Simmons met with existing staff at the center, board members, community leaders and organizations of the High Country community to ascertain the level of community and regional support for the not-for-profit arts center.

The meetings included conversations with founding donors, ongoing supporters, artistic and management executives from Appalachian State University and Lees-McRae College, arts council executives from Watauga and Ashe counties, and local hotel and restaurant owners.

Ron Bryson, Chairman of the board of trustees, said, "Each meeting Ms. Simmons was engaged in together with numerous phone conversations with various members of the community inform me that there is support in ensuring that this facility resumes operations and on a more solid foundation. However, the state of the Hayes Center at this time is fragile, and we need people involved in this restructuring effort who have a solid grasp of the business of the performing arts."

"Running a performing arts center is a complicated business, not a small-time operation" said Bryson. "Given the fact that we house a professional Equity theatre brings additional complexity. Because of these challenges, we knew that we needed someone with significant performing arts experience, and Ms. Simmons has that experience."

When it was announced that the Hayes Center was suspending operations, leaders at the North Carolina Arts Council in Raleigh assisted by providing references to two other performing arts executives, both of whom have been involved in or consulted in the restructuring process.

"I am more optimistic that we can and will be successful than I have been in months," said Bryson. "The Hayes Center is a vital community resource. Every one of these meetings reinforces that fact and the possibility for the Center's future."

For updates, call the box office at (828) 295-9627. For questions, call Allison West at (828) 295-0112 x6.

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