Texarkana Symphony Orchestra tapped to manage Perot Theatre

TEXARKANA, Texas — A citizen advisory committee tasked by the city of Texarkana, Texas, to pick the future management company for the city-owned Perot Theatre has selected the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra for the job.

The TSO was picked by three committee members versus one vote apiece for the Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council and VenuWorks, according to a city memo from Amanda Freeland, contracts administrator for the city.

“The winning bid is contingent on the negotiation phase between the City and TSO reaching a monetary agreement,” Freeland states in the memo sent to city staff on Tuesday.

After negotiations are complete, the selection will then go up for approval by the City Council, said Robby Robertson, the city parks and recreation director who has overseen the selection process. This contract would start in the fall.

“The Texarkana Symphony Orchestra is pleased to have the confidence of the City’s community committee as the new managers of the Perot Theatre,” said the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra in a statement sent by its executive director, Andrew Clark. “We are currently in the second phase of the RFP process, negotiating with the City on the financial terms of the management contract. We look forward to a bright new future for the Perot Theatre as one of our community’s greatest assets.”

The TSO vied with the current management company, which is TRAHC, and the Ames, Iowa-based VenuWorks for the job of managing the venerable, historic theater in downtown Texarkana.

The Perot has brought entertainment to the city for nearly a century, ranging from Broadway shows to vaudeville to concerts and movies.

TRAHC has managed the Perot for decades. All three applicants made their pitch with applications and in-person presentations in front of the committee.

The advisory committee consists of five local residents: Dean Barry, Gail Eichler, Derrick McGary, Fred Norton and Debby Sutton. They made the decision on Thursday, March 31, according to the memo.

Committee members made a selection based on several weighted criteria, including: Experience and Qualification (30%); References (20%); Proposal (50%) with sub-categories of General Management Approach (10%), Vision for Programming and Growth (10%), Equipment Operation and Maintenance (5%), Marketing and Promotion (5%), Operations an d Parking (5%), Financial Stability and Accounting Approach (5%), Staffing (5%) and Compliance with Instructions (5%).

The Perot Theatre request for proposal process began in January with applications submitted in early March. The current contract with TRAHC was granted in 2012 but also was extended for various reasons.

Typically, the city has a five-year contract, so this RFP was overdue, Robertson said in January. The new contract is for three years with options for three one-year renewals, he said, noting the City Council will vote on the recommendation after negotiations yield a contract agreement.

“We’re hammering out the price, the actual monetary negotiation of what needs to be spent on maintenance and staffing and things like that,” Robertson said. The city and TSO plan to meet next week.

With the change from TRAHC to the TSO, look for a transition process to occur.

“There’s going to have to be a transition period because the actual contract, even though we’re going to try to get this all hashed out as quickly as possible and then we need to get it to council so council can approve it, the actual contract TSO will not actually officially take over until Oct. 1,” Robertson said, adding that they want to get the details worked out sooner rather than later.

He declined to characterize why the committee chose the TSO for the job, saying he can’t answer for the committee members.

“They obviously felt that they were going to be the best for the Perot moving forward,” Robertson said.

Opened in 1924, the Perot started as the Saenger Amusement Co.’s “Gateway to the West” theater and was later restored in the 1970s and ’80s. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source: https://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/texarkana/story/2021/apr/13/texarkana-symphony-orchestra-tapped-manage-perot-theatre/867130/