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Victoria Theatre suffers $257K loss for 2012-13 season

Soft ticket sales, higher flood assessment are blamed.

A $257,000 operational loss on revenues of $12.68 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 was reported by The Victoria Theatre Association and the Arts Center Foundation at the annual meeting of the organization on Wednesday. It has been two years since the arts organization has posted a deficit.

Steve Miller, outgoing board of trustees chair, told those gathered in the Mathile Theatre at the Schuster Center that one of the group’s unforeseen expenses was a Miami Valley Conservancy District flood assessment. A “readjustment of benefits” process completed once every eight years resulted in an assessment o $105,000 for the property which had been transformed from an empty lot to a large building since the last assessment. According to Kurt Rinehart, chief engineer of the Miami Conservancy District, the organization was paying $1,679 from 2005-2012.

“Every building that benefits from the flood protection pays the assessment based on the value of the building,” said Rinehart.

Another key challenge, according to president/CEO Ken Neufeld, was softer ticket sales than anticipated which he attributed to sequestration and the elections.

“The Fall election cycle caused us to postpone programming until late November because of the absence of television and radio advertising due to the Presidential election — that meant we had a lot of programming to “shoe horn” into the remaining seven months,” Neufeld said. “The downside of that meant that we were asking our audiences to spend money over a shorter period of time, and I think that hurt us.”

He said people were also worried about furloughs and cutbacks and “that uncertainty spread through the community outside of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base because it’s all linked together. And we had a few “one-time adjustments” that never help but always seem to show up when you really wish they wouldn’t.”

On a positive note, Neufeld reported that more than 24,000 tickets were sold to 4,000 new patrons during the 2012-13 season. New partnerships included a collaboration with Five Rivers MetroParks that introduced a National Geographic Live Series, a “Cheap Seats” campaign connected to the Schuster’s 10th anniversary that offered $10 seats to shows, and a Hometown Heroes event for families of deployed military. The VTA also took over operation of the Arts Garage in April. In the planning stage is a new project with Sinclair Community College.

Based on a formula developed by the Americans for the Arts, Neufeld said the overall expenses for the 2012-13 fiscal year of $12.68 million created an overall estimated $26.5 million economic impact for the Dayton Metro Area. The new board chair of the organization is Neil Freund.

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