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July 17. 2012 11:37PM

Derry Arts Council aims to boost opera house revenue

DERRY — The Derry Arts Council has been working on a new business model to increase performances and revenue at the Derry Opera House at the Adams Memorial Building on East Broadway.

This spring, the arts council sponsored a concert series at the opera house.

“We held four concerts during the spring series,” said Derry Arts Council President David Nelson. “There were two folk concerts and two classic rock concerts.”

Although the concert series did not bring in a big enough audience for the arts council to break even, Nelson said the feedback from the concert-goers was positive concerning the quality of the performances and the venue.

About 50 people attended each performance, Nelson said, with about 150 patrons needed per performance for the arts council to break even.

Nelson noted that the performing arts are typically discretionary spending and that he expects those numbers to increase by the end of the year.

Many public performing arts spaces in New Hampshire have experienced a similar softening of audience numbers over the past several years, Nelson said.

In addition to the four arts council concerts, the arts council rented out the opera house for several events during the spring.

During that time, the opera house was in use for 24 days for 12 separate performances.

“That’s about one performance per week on average,” said Nelson. “I think that is a pretty good start.”

Nelson said the council is working on a fall concert series and is also looking to work with area merchants and organizations such as the Derry Downtown Committee to increase awareness and possibly bring in sponsorships.

Most nonprofit arts groups get the majority of funding through corporate sponsorships and not ticket sales, Nelson said. Town Council Chairman Brad Benson said the Town Council will hold a more in-depth workshop meeting with the arts council in August or September.

“We want to reach out to you folks and work together to make this successful,” said Benson.

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Adam Swift may be reached at aswift@newstote.com.

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