Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mo' money at Thalia Mara

Thalia Mara Auditorium generated the most revenue it ever has this year.  While the attendance at the Jackson auditorium is substantially lower than in past years, Thalia Mara is making more money as it enjoyed revenue of $248,050 in FY 2015-2016.  JJ obtained the attendance and revenue information through a public records request. 

The revenue is gross profit.  Thalia Mara did not generate even one dollar of revenue per customer for many years.  The attendance figures were padded by events that didn't charge admission (such as children's events.)  The result was a turnstile count that seemed profitable but in reality brought little money to Jackson.    Deputy Director of Human and Cultural Services Michael Raff told JJ in an email:

Before renovations , we had 2362 seats. Now we have 2040 seats. That is 322 seats less than what we used to have.
Various groups bring children's shows but there have been a lot less morning bussed in children's shows than in the past. JPS's money was cut for JPS children's shows. There have been less JPS children's shows in general but the Mississippi Symphony used to bring the majority of them . Last year, the Mississippi Symphony brought no children's shows. They used to bring 4 JPS children's shows at a time and now they are bringing 2 at a time. (KF note: as stated earlier, children didn't pay admission.). 

There was one year with no Broadway shows. The previous Broadway lessee brought 2 shows at a time and the current Broadway lessee brings 1 show at a time (except for special shows). The Mississippi Opera was not here for 2 years with any performance s, nor children's shows.

However, the revenue per visitor shows the real trend and gives a more accurate picture despite the closures or number of events.  JJ divided the revenue for a fiscal year by that year's visitors and determined the $/visitor.  Read it and weep.

 Fiscal Year: Dollars of Revenue/visitor

2009-2010: .73
2010-2011: .88
2011-2012: .37
2012-2013: .67
2013-2014: .71
2014-2015: $2.37
2015-2016: $2.90

Yes, those are decimal points for cents.  Thalia Mara did not even approach one dollar of revenue per visitor for many years.  Mr. Raff took over the auditorium, cleaned house, opened it up to promoters, and hired a marketing director (Yes, our old friend Kamikaze.).

There are more shows that range from hip-hop to Widespread Panic to Robert Plant and to yes, The Nutcracker.  Hal and Mal's handles bartending duties. Service is quick and more professional.   One no longer has to travel to the basement to get a drink as there are several bartenders at each level.  Guess what? Revenue from alcohol sales has skyrocketed.   More revenue streams tend to generate.... more revenue.   The numbers don't lie.  Thalia Mara is generating more revenue than it ever has despite having fewer visitors.  However, the number of paying visitors is probably at an all-time high.

Let's hope Thalia Mara stays on the right track.  


Anonymous said...

More good news for Jackson!

Anonymous said...

I saw a concert there in January and was impressed with the service and most importantly - the sound. It blows the coliseum or Hal and Mal's big room out of the water.

I definitely think ardenland deserves some credit for bringing the bigger artists there.

Anonymous said...

I went to the Robert Plant show after swearing off Thalia Mara for several years and was very happy with the venue. The ushers were very helpful and there were plenty of bartenders available. The venue was also very clean. Parking was also a breeze.

The only problem I had was with the acoustics, which still need some work. I could hear all of Plant's songs, but I had trouble understanding his between-song commentary. Get that fixed and Thalia Mara will be in good shape.

The new administration has done a great job with the hall and they should be saluted for their work. Getting top-tier artists such as Widespread Panic and Robert Plant to play there is a coup for Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to introduce a word into everyone's lexicon: "fewer"

We use the word "fewer" when referring to a smaller quantity of countable items. Examples:

"That is 322 seats FEWER than we used to have."
"...but there have been a lot FEWER morning bussed in [sic] children's shows..."
"There have been FEWER JPS children's shows in general..."

The seemingly much more popular adjective, "less" is used when we are referring to a smaller volume of some non-countable substance. Examples:

"The city of Jackson has LESS drinkable water than cities of comparable size."
"Because of foolish governance, the city of Jackson has LESS money than it needs to effectively operate."

Thank you for your time. English class is over.

Anonymous said...

Thalia Mara has impressed me the past couple of years, and it's definitely been a positive for downtown Jackson. Gov't Mule, two nights of Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Robert Plant are all great hauls for a venue like Thalia Mara.

The staff has been extremely helpful, drinks are easy to come by and it is clean. Comfortable too. The only negative issue I experienced was the line to get in at the two Widespread Panic shows. That was probably due to the extra security "wanding" for the dirty hippies. The lines for the other shows were not that bad.

Anonymous said...

I certainly learned the "less" and "fewer" rules many years ago and frankly, I don't care which is used where. I am not any of the above posters, but to correct someone's use of "less" instead of using "fewer" and then to lambaste the City of Jackson is just another way to spread venom, IMHO.

Do you have any idea how much the increased cost of fuel costs a City? Do you think the Recession and slow recovery might also decrease revenue? Yes, the City has plenty of problems and yes, it needs to correct them. But, when the voters consistently elect people who cannot do their jobs like Frank Melton and Robert Schuler Smith and many un-named others, the whole City suffers the consequences and it takes years to recover from their foolishness.

Many things in Jackson are going right despite all you nay-sayers.

PittPanther said...

Thalia Mara is well-managed. I do wish that during the renovation they had bothered to do something about the acoustics. Right now, with no sound reflectors or baffles above the stage, a large amount of the symphony's sound goes up, instead of outwards towards the audience. Many symphony players were disappointed that no changes have been made, to the point that MSO is investigating the possibility of building their own structure.

Kingfish said...

Hate to admit it but I did enjoy the symphony performances when they were at Jackson Prep.

Anonymous said...

What is the net profit/loss? That's where the rubber meets the road.

Kingfish said...

I know. I'm going to ask for the operating budget or financial statements.

Anonymous said...

Thalia Mara is one of the best things going in Jackson. Ardenland has a lot to do with this. Those Widespread Panic shows were absolutely packed and several of the others mentioned were reasonably full. More stuff like this!

Anonymous said...

Lol PittPanther. Ok

Anonymous said...

Brad "Kamikaze" Franklin is marketing director for TMH. As much as he is slammed by some readers on this board, that out to be pointed out. He's done a great job at TMH.

Anonymous said...

Also, thanks need to be given the State for its $1M donation for the renovation. Friends of TMH also played an integral role in fundraising and construction planning.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing this is all because of Arden? He's done great stuff lately.

Anonymous said...

Its not just Arden. Arden is only one of many new promoters who are bringing shows apparently. which Im sure is one reason for the renewed life. A testament to opening opportunity up to everyone. And...liquor. One of the few things being run right in the city. Mr Raff, Kamikaze and staff are doing a great job. Doesnt look like you had any trouble getting info from them ironically

Kingfish said...

Read the post again. I did refer to the hiring of Mr. Franklin.

I also had no problems getting the info requested nor did I imply that I did.

Allowing many promoters is working. Nice to see that instead of one dude getting a contract and then sitting on his ass fat and happy as so many of them are want to do. See Andrew Jenkins and airport restaurants.

Anonymous said...

KF, weren't you the one on here a few years ago crying about how they were kicking out the 'one dude' that had the control over the broadway shows at TMH? How that was just unspeakable, and that the city was going to hell losing those shows? Your story seems to have changed about as much as the Donald's and Hillary's stories do.

Would like to see an audit of those earlier dollars. Sounds like Grove Park or even worse the water department fiasco - not all of the incoming funds making it all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ardenland for helping save live music at Thalia Mara and other locations around Jackson!!!

Anonymous said...

KF I meant as it relates to getting info promptly from the city. I've heard that it's a you know what.

Anonymous said...

Hey 6:36. I don't see anything about live music being "saved" at the Thalia Mara Hall. Looks like a combination of Promoters, Broadway, spirits, and a new staff. That can't be attributed to one person or thing.

Anonymous said...

KF, please remind everyone as well that the people attending the events at Thalia Mara also bring in revenue by eating at local restaurants and staying at hotels and motels. They might also shop while they are here.
The members of the show also eat while they are here and often stay at hotels or motels nearby.
I also, don't know whether or not paid parking is part of the revenues or if parking goes directly to the city or lot owner.
But, the point is that the revenues at the door are not the only financial benefits to the city.
I hope our legislature will see that helping their Capitol become more of a star on our flag will continue to bring benefits and will stop using Jackson as a political whipping post. Helpful intervention is welcomed. Intervention based solely on power grabs and to use divisive politics to advantage as with the airport idiocy is unwelcomed.

Kingfish said...

What I reported a few years ago was that the Kesslers were protesting over the ticket surcharge of $3 per ticket that was implemented to pay for the renovations. She said they would lose their Broadway shows and that is exactly what happened. They were able to sign up with another touring company a couple of years later but the loss did happen.

Anonymous said...

I have immensely enjoyed (or is it enjoyed immensely) the events I've been to at this venue. However, late at night, there is always a bit of 'cautions anxiety' (some call it fear) in coming outside and crossing the street and walking around in the parking garage. There are an awful lot (some would say great number) of old folks, women and vulnerable people attending. I don't think I've seen a cop outside this venue yet.

Launch the 'fearful with no reason' posts in 3..2..1..

Anonymous said...

"KF, please remind everyone as well that the people attending the events at Thalia Mara also bring in revenue by eating at local restaurants and staying at hotels and motels. They might also shop while they are here."

If you were to run an exit survey at the door, you'd find that all the out of towners overnight in motels in Ridgeland, Madison or Pearl and they eat in the same towns. Shopping? Right. Like where?

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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