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DPAO foundation considers 2014 concert series options

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Members of the Disabled Persons Action Organization’s foundation have a lot of work ahead of them throughout the next few months.

They will work with the nonprofit agency’s staff to determine how they can maintain its annual summer concert series and have those shows grow into a sizable, profitable business.

“What we’re faced with is continuing our niche,” said Joseph L. Rich, foundation president and former agency executive director. “Everyone’s doing their best for us.”

In the past couple of years, ticket sales for concerts have gone down while expenses have increased. The price tags of big-name artists are more than half of the typical budget the organization spends on four shows each summer. That issue is coupled with many Northern New York residents wanting to see, just not pay for, those acts. Mr. Rich said results from a recent DPAO concert survey showed that most of the 2,657 respondents didn’t want to, or couldn’t afford, an average $75 per ticket price to bring in top acts. Some wanted to pay as little as $25, he said.

“It’s more of a risk to do larger concerts,” he said. “We’re working hard to make that happen.”

It will cost the agency more than $300,000 to bring a well-known act to perform where DPAO hosts its concert series at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, off Coffeen Street, and an additional $50,000 for rain insurance since it would have to be held outside of the Watertown Municipal Arena there.

The arena accommodates a few thousand people, but DPAO would like to see crowds three times that size to increase profits. The income allows the agency to serve more than 500 people with developmental disabilities throughout Jefferson and Lewis counties.

Mr. Rich said he would prefer to maintain four shows as part of the concert series, but the foundation may consider reducing the number of shows so it can better accommodate a big-name artist.

According to the concert survey, respondents preferred concerts to be held on Fridays and Saturdays,and favored country and classic rock music. Comedy performances were also high on the public’s wish list.

In its 2013 concert season, DPAO netted only $15,543, a $43,840 decrease from the 2012 season. A total of 7,356 tickets were sold to performances by Jack Hanna’s “Into the Wild” animal show, Rodney Atkins, KC and the Sunshine Band/Village People and Charley Pride.

Another obstacle DPAO faces, Mr. Rich said, is most likely having to move its 2015 concert season outside of the local fairgrounds because of anticipated renovation/construction work to the arena.

What could help the concert seasons flourish, he said, is the addition of top sponsors. The series already is heavily supported by area Toyota dealerships and Car-Freshner Corp., and other local companies.

“We have good sponsors, but not nearly enough to cover the cost of one-fourth of our shows,” Mr. Rich said. “What they’d get is a lot of advertising in the Times, Channel 7 helps as well, and through radio. They’d get choice seats.”

Corporate Development Director Timothy J. Dermady said DPAO is looking for a person or business to become the third main sponsor of the series, with a minimum contribution of $20,000. Other sponsorship levels include $10,000 to $19,999 as major sponsors, and $100 to $9,999 as contributing sponsors.

For more information about sponsorship opportunities, call Mr. Dermady at 782-3577 or visit www.dpao.org.

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