After a year of operation at the Performing Arts Center, the city is slightly increasing room rental rates and ticket fees. PAC staff also is looking to bring in new series of higher-profile events to better use the space.

The main change involves the new booking policy, which slightly increases room rental rates due to the old rates sometimes falling short. The decision was made at the Aug. 20 City Council meeting in a vote by the Public Facilities Authority, which is composed of the councilmembers.

Shaun Albrechtson, executive director for the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs. (Special)

“It is a little bit of an increase,” Shaun Albrechtson, the Executive Director of the Performing Arts Center, said at the meeting.

Rental rates were previously determined with a complex system. Now, there will be a flat rate, according to a press release from the city.

“This sounds, in general, like a good improvement,” District 1 Councilmember John Paulson said. “One of the questions we have is, last year… the renter would spend all this money…but then the city would have to pay…for extra costs,” Paulson said.

Albrechtson said the extra costs were created because the previous contracting process had glitches. “We were not covering enough of our expenses, so we were actually losing money on some of these contract deals,” Albrechtson said.

The city has received complaints on some of the add-on fees charged for certain rentals.

Albrechtson said the policy changes should fix a variety of issues. “The community is asking for us to work in a different way than the original structure. We are adapting to their needs,” Albrechtson said.

Catering fees were increased, but the prices still rank at the bottom 10 percent of average catering costs in the area, according to Albrechtson.

The authority also updated the PAC’s booking policy so that “Presenting Partners,” formerly called “Affiliates,” and other performance groups can book theater spaces sooner. The authority said meeting and event planners may reserve meeting spaces up to three years in advance, a change from the previous one-year limit, according to the city press release. Albrechtson said that is standard for room rentals.

Booking information and the new rental rates can be found at citysprings.com.

Ticket prices also will slightly increase, with customers covering the convenience fee charged by the ticketing company the city uses for ticket sales. Previously, the city covered that fee. There will also be a 2.75% credit card fee charged on online ticket purchases.

The other new policies put into effect at the meeting include a new plan for the uses of CityBar, a bar inside of the Performing Arts Center used for various events, and City Green, the park outside City Springs.

The city wants to use CityBar more frequently, according to city documents.

The city has also drafted and adopted a policy that allows occasional free use of the City Green for activities such as yoga and fitness, and for the space to be rented out for events. The changes took effect on Aug. 20 following the meeting.

Albrechtson says he has big plans for the upcoming seasons at the Performing Arts Center, with a focus on the second, smaller theater, Studio Theatre.

“The real focus is starting to prep for season three,” Albrechtson said at an Aug. 22 Hospitality Board meeting. “We think it is a really great space that can generate a lot of extra activity.”

The PAC staff wants to bring a chamber music, jazz and stand-up comedy series into the Studio Theatre, as well as coordinate events with the larger Byers Theatre.

“We are looking to work with the schedule every [space] already has,” Albrechtson said.

The PAC is also considering putting together a season of touring shows, including children’s shows.

“I would like to see traveling events that includes up to eight nationally recognized names throughout the season,” Albrechtson said.
Mayor Rusty Paul encouraged the PAC to bring in smaller, community-based events, such as high school cheerleading and choral competitions, to the spaces.

Albrechtson says he hopes to accommodate all types of events, large and small, but that they have to work simultaneously and seamlessly together in order to bring in the most revenue and diversity.

“You can imagine the puzzle we have to put together with all of these things,” Albrechtson said.

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