UT, Long Center teaming up on Broadway shows
Touring Broadway shows will be spread between Austin's two major venues next season: The University of Texas' Texas Performing Arts and the Long Center for the Performing Arts announced Monday that they have formed an alliance with Broadway Across America, the national tour promoter and producer.
Though the 2010-11 Broadway Across America season has not been announced, the Long Center will host one of the five touring productions. The others will play at UT's 3,000-seat Bass Concert Hall, the longtime venue for touring Broadway shows in Austin.
In the past 25 years, Bass has been home to more than 100 Broadway productions, including blockbusters such as "Wicked," which helped Bass gain the No. 7 spot on Pollstar's list of top 100 Worldwide Theatre Venues for the first three quarters of 2009.
Kathy Panoff, executive director of Texas Performing Arts, said that the agreement also comes as a result of "my more strategic goals for Texas Performing Arts."
"If I'm going to provide programming that's in better alignment with the academic and research mission of the university, it will result in us making more choices about the Broadway shows we present," she said. "We'll choose Broadway titles that are a better fit with the academic mission" of the university.
With an annual budget of $10 million, Texas Performing Arts stands to lose about $100,000 to $150,000 in income by forsaking one Broadway show per season. But Panoff said the difference would be made up as the organization moves to being "more of a donor-focused organization."
With this arrangement, "we can take a leadership role as a community partner and fulfill our role as an academic partner within the university," she said.
Built on city-owned property but funded by private donations, the Long Center opened in 2008 and is the permanent home of Austin Lyric Opera, the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Austin, which occupy the center's main venue, the 2,400-seat Dell Hall, about 180 nights per year.
The Long Center, which has an annual budget of $4.5 million, also presents touring shows, but it has not had the standard weeklong, eight-show engagements.
"Cooperating with other Austin performing arts organizations is central to the mission of the Long Center," said Executive Director Cliff Redd. "The partnership with Texas Performing Arts and Broadway Across America makes total sense both organizationally and from a customer service point of view."