Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spoleto Festival shares the wealth with Charlotte

This year's Spoleto Festival USA racked up more than $2.9 million in ticket sales, and a little piece of that will find its way to Charlotte. 

Most of the time, money flows the other way. Charlotte arts lovers travel to Charleston for the annual rampage of the arts -- buying tickets, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and ransoming their cars out of parking garages. Bank of America sponsors the daily chamber-music concerts. Wells Fargo, continuing a Wachovia tradition, sponsors the jazz series. Thanks to Charlotteans who serve on the festival's board of directors -- including its chair, Wells executive Carlos Evans -- Charleston picks up some human capital, too.  

But this time, Charlotte will share in the success. One of the festival's hits was "Traces," the acrobatic extravaganza that Blumenthal Performing Arts helped produce. The demand was so hot that the show not only sold out its six-performance run, but Spoleto even signed up the troupe to do an extra matinee. 

Blumenthal owns 20 percent of "Traces," says Tom Gabbard, the arts center's president. So, once the show's owners and investors start getting their cuts, Blumenthal will have a new revenue stream. It could last a while, too. The show now has two companies: one with an open-ended run in New York, another that will tour Europe in the fall. A U.S. tour starts in January. 

Admittedly, this won't rival the $55 million of economic impact that Spoleto is thought to bring Charleston each year. But any fresh income is good, especially for the arts. And especially for the arts in Charlotte. 

Photo: Michael Meseke for Spoleto Festival USA