A call for better theater management in St. Petersburg

Posted on: November 9, 2009

“Vibrant is the best way to describe St. Petersburg’s performing arts scene,” states an editorial in Friday’s (11/6) St. Petersburg Times (Florida). “But as venues such as the Palladium Theater, American Stage and Studio@620 innovate and draw boutique audiences, the grande dame of venues in the city, the Mahaffey Theater, is failing. … SMG, an international facilities management company, was hired to develop a winning strategy of entertaining cultural offerings and promotion. It didn’t work. The city is subsidizing Mahaffey operations at about $1 million a year. SMG may have a formula that has proven successful for some of the dozens of other theaters it manages, but not here, not with Mahaffey. Other than the Florida Orchestra’s stellar performances, programming under SMG has been generally incoherent and underwhelming. The theater can’t compete with the larger Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center for a decent Broadway series. … The Mahaffey needs a unique identity that connects with theatergoers in the Tampa Bay region. Someone needs to take the helm who knows the community and the performing arts, and who has the instincts to create an identifiable niche. It can’t come soon enough.”

Posted November 9, 2009