Sandy Springs announced a membership program for patrons of its Performing Arts Center, but the City Springs Theatre Company, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and other organizations that rent the space won’t be included.

The city will announce its lineup of events on May 28, said Shaun Albrechtson, director of the city’s Create Sandy Springs department, as he explained the membership program to the City Council at its May 5 work session. The schedule will include 74 touring events from August through June 2022.

The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. (John Ruch)

“We have a highly diverse season that’s coming up and that’s what will help us sell the memberships,” he said.

The membership program will be launched on the PAC website at https://citysprings.com/memberships.

Councilmember Andy Bauman asked Albrechtson how confusion will be avoided for patrons who already making donations to the Sandy Springs Arts Foundation and the theater company.

The arts foundation was formed by the city in 2017 with a mission of subsidizing arts programs at the PAC. But it severed ties with the city in 2018 to become a private nonprofit organization, keeping as its mission raising funds to subsidize arts programs.

Contacted after the meeting, the foundation manager for the arts foundation, Maureen Darcey, said Albrechtson discussed the membership program with her organization. Brandt Blocker, executive director of the City Springs Theatre Company, also said he had spoken with Albrecthson.

“Over the last year Shaun has shared some aspects for the city’s plan for their upcoming season,” Blocker, said. “Shaun and the City have ensured that City Springs Theatre Company would be the sole provider of fully-staged musical theatre productions at the performing arts center. That commitment keeps our partnership healthy and secure as we support each other’s programming.”

The 501c3 nonprofit organization relies heavily on individual, foundation and corporate support to bring professional production to the Byers stage, he said.

“Given this pandemic year, 70% of our operating budget is reliant on this philanthropic support,” Blocker said, expressing gratitude to support from patrons.

Albrechtson said his department has been working hard during the past year’s closure to rebrand the events and season.

“We have a pretty robust marketing plan that helps us kind of define who we are versus who the theater company is, the film festival, and those other companies that are coming in and using our spaces,” he said.

Shaun Albrechtson serves as the executive director for Create Sandy Springs, which operates the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs. (Special)

The city will send out brochures about the membership program and events to every Sandy Springs address. He said they also plan to host a meet-and-greet that won’t include the outside groups renting the Performing Arts Center for their own events like the theater company and the film festival.

The Create Sandy Springs Membership Program will offer special ticketing, discounts and exclusive events to members, he said. He estimated $100,000 in membership revenue in the first year, with 525 to 550 patrons participating. An annual growth rate of 30% is expected for the first five years before leveling off. The goal is for 1,500 annual members.

Membership levels were set at $100, $500, $2,500 and $5,000, with increasing benefits. The basic $100 “Actor” level offers two-day advance ticket sales, members only drink specials, 10% discount on select events, camps and classes, and an invitation to some member events, including backstage tours.

Selecting higher level memberships gets a patron up to seven-day advance ticket sales, tickets to select performances, recognition on displays and programs and free valet service, depending on the cost of the membership.

The city will see an increase in patron activity, with members purchasing tickets to more events, Albrechtson said.

“But more importantly we see this cross-pollination between disciplines within the arts,” Albrechtson said.

He said without the membership program, patrons would stick to single interests, such as concerts or dance performances. But the membership program will encourage them to buy tickets for other events.

“It’s really a dynamic way to increase the patron activity within a membership program within an art center,” he said.

Albrechtson said other ways to gain financial support for a municipal performing arts center include corporate sponsorships, planned for fiscal year 2022 and naming opportunities, including brick and seat sales. This summer the city will install the first set of bricks sold to patrons. Bricks and seat plaques were first sold by the city in October 2019.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis is a freelance journalist based in metro Atlanta.