Clay Center expects to end fiscal year in black

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Even though revenues are running behind at the Clay Center, the arts and science center should end up in the black for its fiscal year, center officials said.Clay Center CEO Judy Wellington told the center's board of directors Thursday that revenues weren't as horrendous as the financial report indicated. Spring is the center's biggest time, she said.Currently, all earned revenue is nearly $360,000 below was what was budgeted for the year ending June 30, Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Gillispie told the board at its quarterly meeting.She said one reason for the deficit is there were two "headliner" shows at the center this fall -- when four had been budgeted.If no additional shows are booked, the Clay Center will break even this year, Gillispie said."We're having difficulty getting artists to commit in time for season ticket sales," board member Horace Emery said.Still, he said three or four acts have already been booked for fall and eight to 10 offers are out to various artists who should appealed to "different demographics." "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery's Feb. 23 show was very successful, thanks to teenage girls, Wellington said, whereas country music legend Kenny Rogers drew a much more mature audience on Wednesday.Wellington said she was concerned about the number of Clay Center members going to museum and art gallery events. "If they don't use it, they won't renew it,' she said, adding that steps are being taken to better communicate with members.       Revenue from members who give $350 or less a year is down about $10,000 from last year, and nearly $40,000 from what was budgeted.
However, Wellington said attendance has picked up for family programs. "Engineering Day is our most popular event of the year," she said about the recent event.She said the May program "Wave Lengths" was planned as means to get families who visit the Mylan Exploratory to also go to the art gallery. Interactive activities in the science area will require a visit to the art exhibits. In reporting on development efforts, Andrew Cooke said a new entity, the Clay Medical Society, has been established for those in the medical profession that should have "a lasting and positive effect on the Clay Center." He pointed out that a facility like the Clay Center helps the medical field in its recruitment.In addition to the unnamed upcoming shows, what went unsaid at the meeting attracted notice.Wellington was vague in answering a question about what was planned for the Clay Center's 10th anniversary this year. She said no decision has been made on whether to hold a gala.
And Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau,  said the governor's office had "a world class plan" for the 150th anniversary of West Virginia's statehood. "It will be a huge celebration," she promised. "It's never been done outside of Florida, Texas and New York."As the new director of center, Bailey listed achievements of the her tourism office, including attracting 300 tour operators to the city for Travel South Showcase and meeting its goal of booking 28,000 rooms a night in Charleston in half the set time.          However, she said those successes won't continue if improvements aren't made to the Charleston Civic Center. "Our competitors have newer, bigger and more lovely facilities," said Bailey, asking for the board to support the proposed renovations to the Civic Center.Members of the Clay Center for the Arts and Science are: Phyllis Arnold, Charles M. Avampato, Robert Berthold Jr., Ellen Cappellanti, Kelly L. Castleberry III, Elizabeth E. Chilton, Andrew B. Cooke, Stephen P. Dexter, Robert E. Douglas, Fonda Elliot, John Elliot, Horace W. Emery, Harry H. Esbenshade III, Alex Franklin, Shawn P. George, Michael R. Graney, David Haden, David J. Hardy, Tom Heywood, Eric Iskra, Lloyd G. Jackson II, Mike John, Mayor Danny Jones, J. Thomas Jones, Laurance Jones III, Melvin Jones, Stephen E. Kawash, Virginia King, Thomas Kittredge, Ken Kleeman, Jane Kopp, Charles W. Loeb, Jr., Edward H. Maier, Gayle C. Manchin, Sallie McClaugherty, Kyle Mork, Madeleine Nibert, Roger Nicholson, Charles Patton, David Ramsey, Sharon Rowe, Sue Sergi, Delegate Douglas Skaff Jr., Reed Spangler, John Strickland, Andrew K. Teeter, Gayle Twigger-Shaw, Grace Vandecruze-Heyliger, Richard M. Wallace, The Rev. Matthew Watts, Steve Wehrle, Joan Weisberg, Judith Wellington and Joseph B. Wollenberger.Reach Rosalie or 304-348-5115. 
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