Ball & Socket, Cheshire, CT

Ball & Socket, Reborn

AMS has been commissioned by Ball & Socket Arts to assist in defining the market and cultural programming for an arts and entertainment complex in Cheshire, CT.

Ball & Socket, Cheshire, CTThe historic Ball & Socket Manufacturing Co. property on West Main Street is undergoing remediation that will enable the renovated building to house facilities to potentially include performance spaces, art galleries, a cinema, classrooms, studios, food services and retail establishments.

Once completed, the venue will serve Cheshire, surrounding towns and the broader region.

Read more about the project online.

By :
Comments : 0
Ardmore, Oklahoma

Creating Ardmore

AMS’s Michele Walter presented a plan to a diverse group of stakeholders in Ardmore, Oklahoma, to breathe life into the city’s arts and cultural offerings.

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Photo: Iris Greenwell,

AMS was originally hired to assist in developing a plan that would create a roadmap in identifying and prioritizing investment and programming in Ardmore’s key existing cultural facilities, including the historic Tivoli Theatre, Heritage Hall, Depot Park, and the Goddard Center. As AMS worked with Ardmore Main Street Authority, Ardmore Tourism Authority, Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, the City of Ardmore, and arts and business leaders, it became evident that the community was longing for expanded arts and culture programming.

AMS suggested growing the city’s sector through a series of incremental steps in a generative process to strengthen the city’s unique cultural assets and catalyzing creative growth reflective of a population that is uniquely Ardmore.

For more about AMS’ work in Ardmore, read this article online.

By :
Comments : 0
Mercer Island Arts Center

New Center for the Arts on Mercer Island

AMS client Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) on Mercer Island near Seattle is scheduled to break ground in late 2016, having completed early planning and begun design in January of 2015.

Mercer Island Arts CenterAMS’s role includes the development of a business plan and operating model for the new center, as well as design process management and a comprehensive utilization and operating plan. The facility is planned to include a 350-seat mainstage theatre, a 150 seat recital hall, a flexible blackbox, and a variety of education spaces for music, art, and movement.

The venue will serve to activate Mercer Island’s Town Center, and serve a number of local and regional arts organizations,  including Youth Theatre Northwest, the Island’s award-winning youth theatre organization.

For further details on the project, see the news item in the Seattle Times.

By :
Comments : 0
El Paso, Texas

Advancing Quality of Life in El Paso

The City of El Paso, Texas, took several big steps toward a new cultural development project this January, as it focused its efforts on four potential sites downtown. The planned Hispanic cultural center and children’s museum, along with a large multipurpose event center/arena, are key components of a $470 million “Quality of Life Bond” approved by the citizens in 2012. AMS has been part of the planning process since 2013.

El Paso, Texas

Photo: Hadley Paul Garland

Two years ago, AMS was engaged by urban design architects HKS to advise an urban planning project celebrating the border city’s rich cultural heritage. The development of new arts and educational programming was a high priority to bring vibrancy to the community, and serve a population largely comprising young families.

AMS explored the inclusion of the two venues — a Hispanic cultural center, and a children’s museum — as part of the larger bond investment to develop a large multipurpose event center/arena and improve city parks, libraries, museums, the zoo, and downtown. AMS cited the city’s core values, assisted in defining emerging community and facility priorities, outlined opportunities, and completed a market analysis.

Our research and conversations with the community led us to suggest an inter-connected collaborative approach to the museum and cultural center that would contribute to an El Paso “cultural corridor.” The coordinated approach would create shared opportunities across architecture and programming to maximize the impact of the development and the experience of the visitors. We concluded our work with “next steps” that would enable the city to further develop and achieve desired outcomes for the two Bond projects.

We congratulate our colleagues in El Paso as this bold initiative to build quality of life takes its next steps forward.

For more information on the initiative, see the following news articles:


By :
Comments : 0
New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Rethinking New Jersey

The Strategic Triangle, described in our previous post, offered a way to understand and achieve success in an arts organization, at the intersection of public value, organizational capacity, and legitimacy/support. We suggested that success lies in moving beyond “excellence” and “efficiency,” toward becoming more “effective” and “entangled.” This post explores an inspiring example of such work through the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (, under the leadership of its Founding CEO Larry Goldman and now, his successor, John Schreiber.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center

photo by Scott Miller/Flickr

Goldman was appointed President of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 1989, when the venue was still on the drawing board. Just two years earlier, then-Governor Thomas H. Kean had announced plans for the Center as a bold initiative to rekindle and reframe the state and Newark, its largest city, as a vibrant, diverse, and connected community. The city had a difficult past, with devastating riots and related economic, social, and civic unrest in the 1960s. Today, the city is recognized as resurgent, with major investments in housing, corporate expansion, and a growing educational sector. For many, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center was, and remains, a key element of that turnaround.

Larry realized soon after arriving in Newark, following a leadership role at Carnegie Hall, that NJPAC had to “create reality before reality” to generate and sustain support from stakeholders. Over his 22 years, he had to inspire belief among eight different governors, two mayors, countless corporate and civic leaders, and philanthropists that a performing arts center could not only be successful in Newark, but also could change how people viewed the city.

From Excellence to EntanglementFrom their first steps, Larry and his NJPAC team were committed to creating an arts center that was not just in Newark but of Newark and “a place where everyone feels they belong.” That meant attracting a diverse range of citizens who didn’t believe an arts center was for them – suburban residents who hadn’t ventured into the city for years, city residents with little or no experience in professional cultural venues, and even culture aficionados who could easily choose to visit Manhattan for extraordinary performing arts events. While they did not name it at the time, the NJPAC team was deeply committed to making sure that NJPAC was an integral part of the community, “entangled” in many aspects of the city’s success.

At a recent conference at Rutgers University, Goldman noted that his team set out to “create a center that [would be] embraced by the Mozart and Beethoven crowd and Newarkers.” That meant NJPAC needed to reflect the community it was to serve at every stage, from initial staff to construction workers and into operations.

By incorporating design elements influenced by traditional African Kente cloth, or by programming for one of the most diverse audiences in the nation, NJPAC “didn’t just give lip service to certain values, but put those values at the very heart of every decision we made.”

As another example, NJPAC’s Sounds of the City summer music series combines many pieces in elegant ways. The series on summer Thursdays is locally programmed to bring multiple populations to the Center, working with community music artists and social groups. The evening progresses from networking opportunities for young professionals to a “kind of competition “battle” between local bands, and finally to city dwellers dancing to the diverse musical experiences of their community. Larry notes that it took time and consistency for things to gel, “we told people five or six times before they really got it.” But once people experienced the event, they could see the organization was delivering what it had promised. The intended outcome of this project – to engage Newarkers and New Jersey residents with NJPAC and downtown Newark – is a powerful example of rethinking success.

Now in its eighteenth year, NJPAC is building on that foundation with an expanded commitment to make the arts center both accessible and more visible. Larry’s successor, CEO John Schreiber, reinforced that commitment in announcing the Center’s 2014-15 season by saying, “Every member of our community wants an arts center that resonates for them, and NJPAC offers that.”

The NJPAC example illustrates that the past practice in the arts of counting things (people, programs, performances) and claiming public value is no longer sufficient. Today, value comes from clear, continuous, and integrated leadership across all aspects of the organization, and in collaboration with a full range of constituents.

As cultural organizations rethink success in the 21st century, we believe that aligning our goals, our work, and our community this way makes us more entangled. By incorporating external measures of success, we become more effective and focused on impact. We must build capacity beyond our understanding of our work and engage with others in community development. If we are intentional about our goals and document the benefits that we create, we can grow the support that our artists and organizations need to thrive.

In future posts, we will explore how other organizations around the world have worked to create public value, build organizational capacity, and animate both legitimacy and support in responsive and integrated ways.

If you have examples of success to share, join the conversation. Post your stories and data through our comment system below.

By :
Comments : 0

PACStats 2.0

For over a decade, PACStats has been an invaluable resource for performing arts organizations and the facilities they inhabit. The interactive, on-line platform is designed to serve varying tiers of user groups, from large-scale performing arts centers to single-house venues. PACStats was developed to provide benchmark data for crucial functions, including building operations, development, human resources, programming, as well as sales, press, advertising, and marketing. As a reporting tool, PACStats enables informed decision-making at every level of the enterprise.

PACStatsThe latest iteration of the software efficiently collates user input data, serves a broader range of users, allows dynamic filtering and customization, and integrates with VenueCube’s cloud-based front-of-house reporting tool, ActivityCube.

In addition to online features and functions, PACStats members gather annually to discuss trends, data, and review AMS ‘state of the field’ observations. In the coming year, AMS looks forward to the expansion of our user community as we continue to provide unparalleled data quality to the performing arts industry.

Learn more, and sign up!

By :
Comments : 0
U.S. Department of State

Connecting the World through Dance

DanceMotion USA is a diplomacy program of the U.S. Department of State, produced by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), designed to foster cultural partnerships, promote mutual understanding, and enhance relationships between the U.S. and world populations. For 2015, BAM has engaged AMS Planning & Research for a fourth consecutive year to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, cite ways to maximize engagement, and suggest ways to improve internal program logistics, services, and policies.

U.S. Department of StateThe international dance collaboration project includes both touring and residency components. In 2014, three U.S. dance companies traveled to Turkey, Tajikistan, Armenia, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Taiwan and China, where the program reached local communities and underserved populations. The residency program partnered U.S., Turkish, and Armenian dancers, who presented an original piece linking the styles of their respective choreographers.

AMS looks forward to continuing to assist BAM in modeling success for this significant global endeavor.

To learn more about DanceMotion, read about their recent tour in Taiwan, or watch a performance of a collaborative from 2014.

By :
Comments : 0
The Proposed Pier 55

Transforming History into the Future

New York’s historic waterfront has a bold proposal for a new island-like park and performance venue. AMS played an early role in its development. The $170 million Pier 55 initiative would build a unique public space with three performance venues on a platform above the Hudson River.

The Proposed Pier 55AMS was commissioned in 2013 to work with project leadership to explore programming and market potential for the initiative. The critical first task was to refine the concept and define success in a city where the traditional meets the innovative, and continually stretches the boundaries of both. AMS suggested and tested programmatic ideas, analyzed the regional residential market and the potential for cultural tourism, detailed the competitive environment, and developed case studies of other inventive place-based venues worldwide. AMS also developed operating concepts and financial modeling, exploring the nature and magnitude of revenues and expenses, to aid project philanthropists in critical early decision-making.

The project could provide new opportunities for creative artists and audiences, as well as exciting new site specific programming and enable the formation of global partnerships to promote non-traditional art forms.  For more information on the initiative, see the related article in the New York Times.


By :
Comments : 0
Writers Theatre Ground Breaking

Writers Theatre Breaks Ground

AMS was proud to be present for the ground-breaking for the new Theatre Center of Writers Theatre on October 21. The celebratory event, attended by a capacity crowd of trustees, donors, artists, and project designers and consultants, marked the beginning of construction.

AMS has been advising and supporting the organization and the initiative since 2008.

Writers Theatre Ground Breaking

L to R: Elaine Tinberg, Co-Chair, On to a Next Stage campaign; Michael Halberstam, Artistic Director; Jeanne Gang, Principal, Studio Gang; Steven A. Wolff, Principal, AMS Planning & Research Corp.; and Kate Lipuma, Executive Director.

Located on Chicago’s North Shore, the 36,000-square-foot theatre center  is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. Among the key features in the new center:

  • The 250-seat Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre purposefully designed to maintain Writers Theatre’s hallmark intimacy;
  • The Gillian Theatre, a 50 to 99-seat flexible theatre space that pays tribute to Writers Theatre’s first performance space at Books on Vernon in Glencoe;
  • A “Theatre in a Park” atmosphere, with patron access to surrounding parks, outdoor rooftop terraces, landscaped and rooftop gardens, and beautifully integrated views of existing parks to the east and west;
  • A spacious main lobby, with many patron amenities, that functions as a central gathering area, where audience members and students will enjoy supplementary artistic, family and educational programs; and
  • A luminous grand gallery walk, structured entirely from wood by renowned engineer Peter Heppel, suspended around the lobby and serving as viewing area and “front porch” to the building.

Learn more about the project on the Writers Theatre website, or in this article from Curbed Chicago.

By :
Comments : 0
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Grand Premiere in Orlando

Longtime AMS client, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, announces their Grand Premiere schedule in celebration of the highly anticipated grand opening of the performing arts center in downtown Orlando.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts“The events that we have put together for the Grand Premiere of the Dr. Phillips Center reflect the vision of ‘Arts for Every Life’,” says Kathy Ramsberger, president of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. “So many people have worked so hard for so long, and because of their passion and their persistence — it happened. The dream of a performing arts center has become the reality of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and we want everyone to come and celebrate together.”

More information on the Grand Premiere is available online.

By :
Comments : 0