Center for the Performing Arts renews search for naming rights partner


The Center for the Performing Arts announced in 2019 it was seeking a naming rights partner. The time seemed right until it definitely wasn’t.

Jeffrey McDermott, the Center’s president and CEO, said a naming partnership agreement with a healthcare company was nearly in place, but then in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to a halt.

“That naming partner, in my mind, very appropriately decided they needed to step back and focus on essential services and focused on keeping their employees engaged and employed and we needed to do the same thing,” said McDermott, who agreed not to divulge the company’s name.

Internally, McDermott said the Center made the decision to pause the search for a naming rights partner during the pandemic. But now, McDermott said the Center has decided to resume it.

“Last year, we had record ticket sales and we had some record numbers with our educational programs and events,” McDermott said. “The Christkindlmarkt, which happens on our campus, is going stronger than ever.”

The Center saw a 45 percent increase in patrons in 2023, including a 50 percent increase in first-time visitors and a 30 percent increase in return visitors.

“We’re not looking for the highest bidder to put their name on our campus. We’re looking for someone that aligns with our vision, our core values, all of those things,” McDermott said.

McDermott said the five core values are excellency, integrity, inclusion, innovation and collaboration.

There has been an increased commitment to diverse performances with an estimated 40 percent of the artists featured at the Center coming from diverse backgrounds,

The Live at the Center concert series, which launched during the pandemic, features free livestreams of local artists who were paid by the Center and then given the livestream video and audio assets to allow the artists to promote themselves. There are nine Live at the Center events planned for 2024.

Adam Arceneaux, a Carmel resident who serves as a Center board member and the chair of the naming rights committee, said this is the right time for the naming rights partner search. The committee consists of board and community members.

“We’ve come through the pandemic stronger than ever,” Arceneaux said. “We’re finding there is a pent-up demand and appetite for performing arts. We’ve had a number of sellout performances, and the six resident companies are all doing well.”

Arceneaux said there is no timetable for a decision.

“We’re interacting with different patrons to see who might be a good fit for this opportunity,” he said. “It’s really a long-term relationship that we are looking for.”

Arceneaux said the Center has established itself with a reputation among performers throughout the nation.

“It just seems to me like we’re on a growth trajectory, which makes the naming opportunity all the more attractive with potential partners,” Arceneaux said.

McDermott said the name has to be something that makes sense for the Center and the partner.

“It’s got to have a good sound and feel to it, but I say it’s all negotiable,” he said.