The Durham Performing Arts Center has attracted crowds since its opening in 2008, and now corporations and charitable foundations are getting in line too.
DPAC officials announced Friday that they had secured $80,000 in new funding from naming rights contributions, corporate sponsorships and support from foundations.
“DPAC is fortunate to have the support of some of the region’s best companies,” DPAC General Manager Bob Klaus wrote in an email Tuesday. “Their involvement was key to getting us on the map.”
Health insurance provider BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina purchased naming rights to the center’s atrium, said Reginald Johnson, DPAC interim director of community development. The F. M. Kirby Foundation received the naming rights to the general manager’s office and IBM has provided DPAC with a computer server. Personal care company Burt’s Bees and pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co. Inc., have also donated to DPAC, as have the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Coca-Cola of Durham and SunTrust Bank.
“Because we had a lot of people coming through last year you have people who want to see their business’ name in front of those people,” Johnson said. “People that are a part of Durham want to make a contribution to Durham [because of that].”
Sponsorships help DPAC fund the shows that the center brings to Durham, Klaus said.
Douglas Zinn, executive director of the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, said the group wanted to participate in funding DPAC because it adds to the cultural life of Durham and has an economic impact.
“DPAC has a draw outside of Durham,” Zinn said. “People see there is a lot going on here and want to come back.”
According to Pollstar magazine, DPAC was ranked second nationwide for theaters with the most attendance during the first quarter of 2011.
Shelly Green, president and CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the naming rights revenue is a very good thing for Durham, but added that she doubts it will result in more visitors coming to DPAC.
“The only things that would effectively increase the number of visitors to DPAC is to put money into marketing to get more people to existing shows,” Green wrote in an email Tuesday. “To my knowledge, the naming rights money is not spent on either marketing or producing more shows”.
The money that comes from naming rights helps pay for the building and takes care of other needs that arise, Johnson said.
The New York Times ranked Durham number 35 in the top 41 places to go in 2011, Zinn noted, adding that support for venues such as DPAC play a significant role in revising Durham’s national reputation.
“Durham has had an image problem that is perpetrated by other places, and Durham is slowly getting out of that,” Zinn said.
The University contributed $7.5 million to DPAC’s construction in 2008 but was not involved in this wave of sponsorships, Johnson noted.