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Center renews search for naming partner

12/18/2023 12AM

The Center for the Performing Arts campus at Carmel's City Center is home to compelling performances, educational and experiential opportunities for all ages, and public attractions such as the Carmel Farmers Market, the holiday Christkindlmarkt and ice rink, and the city's nightly Palladiscope projection experience.

Multiyear deal will support expansion of arts and educational programs


CARMEL, Ind. – After emerging from the pandemic lockdown era with its programming and attendance stronger than ever, the Center for the Performing Arts is relaunching its search for a multiyear corporate naming partnership.


The eventual partner will have its name attached to a thriving organization with a national reputation and a three-venue physical campus that sees more than half a million visitors annually. The additional revenue will enable the nonprofit Center to further expand and enhance its programming, which includes hundreds of performances each year, a wide-ranging menu of educational and experiential opportunities for people of all ages, and a proactive effort to diversify its offerings and its audiences.


A man with white hair dressed in a dark suit and tie

CEO Jeff McDermott

To be clear, however, the Center is not simply offering to sell its name to the highest bidder, President/CEO Jeffrey C. McDermott said.


“We’re searching diligently for what I would call the right partner and the right fit,” McDermott said. “It must be an organization that aligns with our mission and values and wants to build a long-term relationship.”


The Center’s stated mission is to engage and inspire the Indiana community through enriching arts experiences, with a campus at Carmel City Center that includes the Palladium, an acclaimed 1,500-seat concert hall; the Tarkington, a 500-seat proscenium theater; and the Studio Theater, a black box with flexible seating configurations. The venues provide a rehearsal and performance base for six resident arts companies active in theater, dance and classical music, as well as the annual Center Presents season of performances by national and international artists in pop, rock, classical, jazz, country, comedy and other genres. Since opening in 2011, the campus has hosted more than 3,100 performances for over 1.3 million ticketed patrons hailing from all 92 Indiana counties, all 50 states and 30-plus nations.


The Center is home to the affiliated Great American Songbook Foundation, and the campus also hosts public events that attract thousands of visitors, such as the weekly Carmel Farmers Market and the holiday Christkindlmarkt and skating rink.


The naming rights initiative was first announced in 2019, and negotiations with a prospective partner were nearly complete when the COVID pandemic struck and understandably put the process on hold.


Although the pandemic posed an existential threat to the live performing arts industry, the Center took the opportunity to make its programming even more accessible to audiences, investing in interactive video technology that has extended its reach far beyond its previous regional footprint. Since then, onsite attendance has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with Center Presents performances alone drawing nearly 60,000 patrons during the 2022-2023 season.


From the start, the partner search has been informed by the work of Chicago-based sponsorship consultancy IEG, which conducted an independent analysis of the Center’s assets as well as the national picture for partnerships in the live entertainment industry.


“This is a very innovative move for the Center,” said Peter Laatz, Global Managing Director of IEG. “The performing arts is an area where we see companies wanting to invest as they look to diversify beyond sports and become a more engaged partner in a thriving community. Just a handful of other performing arts centers of this caliber in the U.S. have a dedicated corporate naming partner, so this really speaks to the Center’s partnership acumen and vision.”


A committee overseeing the search on behalf of the Center’s Board of Directors is chaired by board member Adam Arceneaux, managing partner for the Indianapolis office of national law firm Ice Miller. The firm is the presenting partner of the Center’s annual gala, the Center Celebration, and Arceneaux personally is in his second year of co-chairing the fundraiser.


“The Center for the Performing Arts is a uniquely impactful community asset and a beacon of excellence and inclusivity, not only for Hamilton County but for central Indiana and beyond,” Arceneaux said. “Our firm sees great benefit in the relationship, and I think any business wanting to connect positively with people in the region would take a serious look at this naming opportunity.”


About the Center for the Performing Arts

The mission of the nonprofit Center for the Performing Arts is to engage and inspire the Central Indiana community through enriching arts experiences. The Center presents and hosts hundreds of events each year, including the Center Presents performance series, featuring the best in classical, jazz, pop, rock, country, comedy and other genres. The campus in Carmel, Indiana, includes a 1,500-seat concert hall, the Palladium; a 500-seat proscenium theater, the Tarkington; and the black-box Studio Theater. The Center is home to the affiliated Great American Songbook Foundation and provides space and support services for six resident companies: Actors Theatre of Indiana, Carmel Symphony Orchestra, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Civic Theatre, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre and Indiana Wind Symphony. The Center also provides educational and experiential programming for people of all ages. More information is available at