Center succeeds in luring popular acts

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The Center for the Performing Arts President/CEO Jeffrey C. McDermott saw the need for more balanced programming at the Palladium, the Carmel venue’s 1,600-seat concert hall.

“About five years ago or so, we felt we needed to step up the more commercial revenue-driving shows we were booking here,” McDermott said. “We would bring in all sorts of world-class shows that I would call mission shows, classical, jazz, songbook or international, great talents and great artists who weren’t necessarily well-known but part of our mission to bring great music and great artists to our venue.

“The challenge was, without some higher revenue-producing and commercially viable artists, it’s hard to maintain that mission.”

There have been some big draws like Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr., Weird Al Yankovic, Diana Ross, Sheryl Crow and Steve Martin and Martin Short. McDermott said the 2021-22 season might have created the biggest buzz with attracting John Legend, who performed Oct. 20, 2021, and Sting, whose concert is set for May 8. Both concerts sold out quickly after public sales began.

McDermott said the Center wanted to book Sting for more than one night, but his schedule was already filled. McDermott said Sting and Legend likely could have sold out multiple nights.

McDermott said some of the more popular ticket-selling acts are added after the season is announced.

“A lot of the more commercial artists might book four or five months in advance,” McDermott said. “They have to be touring in this area and we have to have the opening at the same time. It’s the combination of art, science and a little luck.”

McDermott praised the contributions of Dan Kemer, who was named the vice president of programming in June 2021. Kemer, a Carmel resident who has been a vice president of Live Nation Entertainment in the Midwest, stepped into the role when Doug Tatum retired from the position.

“Dan has done a wonderful job,” McDermott said. “Dan has a pop/rock/country/comedy background through his work with Live Nation, but also has a classical background. He actually played classical trumpet in college. He has an appreciation for the mission side of what we do and the educational side of what we do.

“He also has 20-plus years in the industry working with artists and managers of the top artists in the world in more commercial-type offerings. That has made quite a difference for us.”

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