The amphitheater in Chesterfield’s Central Park has become a revenue generator and that trend likely will continue with the City Council’s approval of a policy affecting ticketed events at the venue.
Under the policy, which received unanimous approval, Parks, Recreation and Arts Department officials will be able to negotiate and execute ticketed event agreements as long as the fees for the performing artists are within the fiscal year budgeted amount approved by the council.
The procedure outlined in the new policy has applied in recent years but was based on what amounted to an understanding between the council and department officials. Tom McCarthy, Parks, Recreation and Arts director, asked that the practice be formalized as policy.
The council’s Parks, Recreation and Arts Committee earlier had reviewed the issue and had recommended approval by the full council. The policy also had received legal approval.
In a background memo, McCarthy noted that when the city first tried to contract with performers for ticketed shows, opportunities regularly were lost because it took days or weeks to obtain formal approvals. In an industry where back-and-forth negotiations move at a fast pace, McCarthy said the expectation is that a contract should be confirmed within an hour of its being offered.
McCarthy said that, since the council’s earlier approval of a more flexible procedure, the amphitheater “has achieved positive publicity and has progressively gained a reputation as a viable commercial boutique performance location.”
Jason Baucom, the department’s superintendent of arts and entertainment, noted in another background memo that 2017 was a banner year for the amphitheater, marking the third consecutive year in which gross revenues have at least doubled those of the previous year.
During that three-year period, revenues have gone from $22,004 to more than $280,000. Gross receipts from just two ticketed shows this year have translated into more than $32,000 in net income for the city.
In addition to ticketed shows, which have generated more than two-thirds of gross revenues, ticketed rentals, non-ticketed rentals and the partnered Chesterfield Wine and Jazz Festival event also have contributed to the increase, Baucom said.
“Our notoriety is beginning to build as the best small outdoor venue in the Midwest [due to] these ticketed events and the mix of programming we provide,” Baucom enthused.
Chesterfield residents constitute the largest group of ticket buyers bu Baucom predicted that bigger stars could attract some attendees driving from as much as three or four hours away.