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AT&T PAC Reports to the City Council
by Jerome Weeks 26 Jan 2010

AT&T PAC CEO Mark Nerenhausen told the Dallas City Council that, so far, the city’s new performing arts complex is doing very well — in ticket sales, audience reach, even in cooperating with other arts groups. All this, despite a bad economy. B. J. Austin reports.


  • KERA radio story:
  • Online story:

In its first three months of operation, Dallas’ new arts complex, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, was visited by more than 93,000 people. KERA’s B. J. Austin says the center’s first report card shows little evidence of the recession.

Nerenhausen-webThe glitz and glamour of the AT&T Performing Arts Center‘s opening galas and performances attracted a lot of new people to the arts. Seventy-one percent of total ticket sales were to “new buyers.” One of the first shows in the Winspear Opera House — 700 Sundays,  starring Billy Crystal — had the highest one-week gross compared to all other cities on that U.S. tour. And, Performing Arts Center CEO Mark Nerenhausen says the Center recently doubled the number of phone lines into its box office.

Nerenhausen: “We’re blanketing the metro area in just 90 days. That says that we’re accomplishing what we set out to do in quality of life – which made sure that this wasn’t just for the elite. But this was truly for everybody.”

Dallas Council member Carolyn Davis is encouraged by the fast, apparently recession-proof  start of the public and privately-funded Performing Arts Center. But she worries the high profile center will overpower smaller neighborhood performance groups.

Davis: “Don’t miss the other ones, so they will not find themselves out of business perhaps because they don’t have the same kind of funding source.”

Mark Nerenhausen says the Arts Center is forming partnerships with smaller groups to manage their ticket sales using the Arts Center’s computer system and professional staff. And partnering to discover ways to publicize and promote performance citywide.

Meanwhile, private fundraising for the AT&T Arts Center continues, competing with the funding campaign for the 2011 Super Bowl in Cowboys Stadium. The city of Dallas hopes to provide more money for continued development of the Center in the 2011 bond package. Council members will be watching box office receipts and the economy, hoping for strong performances this year.

  • Donald H. Schaffer

    Your support of smaller art groups throughout the city is wonderful and will strengthen the entire system. Your report indicates we’re off to a good start. But we need to be aggressive and pro-active in promoting the Center with both outstanding marketing and excellent productions. There is no room for complacency. Thank you for great leadership of the Center.