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Clay Center faces financial challenges in 10th year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 1.5 million people will have visited the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences when it marks the 10th anniversary of its opening on July 12.

The center will enter its 10th year with financial challenges, it was pointed out several times during the board of directors' end-of-the-fiscal-year meeting Thursday.

Board Treasurer Charles Avampoto emphasized that the 2013-14 budget "was especially difficult to put together.... We're seeing the impact of the Clay Foundation money ending." That longtime philanthropic organization recently closed its doors.

Board members Phyllis Arnold and Fonda Elliot both cited the necessity of raising more revenue. Arnold said she would double her normal contribution, and Ellliot urged members to help raise money. "We can't budget our way out of this," she said.

Rebecca Gillispie reported that center operations broke about even this year, however.

In presenting the development report, Andy Teeter urged board members to encourage their friends to become members. Although membership revenue is higher this year, it's short about $47,000 of the amount budgeted.

"We need membership for a pipeline of getting donors," he said, and outlined steps the center was taking to market to people who visit the center's performances, museum and art and science exhibits.

Horace Emery presented statistics to show which Clay Center performances attracted a wider, younger or new audience. Fifty-six percent of the audience for Old Crow Medicine Show and 50 percent of the attendees for Scotty McCreery were younger than 40. Both were sellouts.

Forty-eight percent of the audiences for McCreery and Daughtry shows were first-time visitors to the Clay Center, and 38 percent of the audience came for the first time to see comedian Lewis Black.

Old Crow Medicine Show, Daughtry, McCreery and Black also drew from a wider geographical area.

Clay Center CEO Judy Wellington presented more figures for the 2012/13 year: 36,787 tickets were sold to performances; 62,000 people attended the museum; 28,000 saw films in the ElectricSky theater, and 16,000 visited the planetarium shows.

The board approved the nominations of seven new board members -- Bobby Blakeley, Gaston Caperton, Fred Clark, Nate Orders, Shawn Patterson, Harvey D. Peyton and Steve Roby -- and passed resolutions thanking three members who will be leaving the board: Edward H. Maier, Stephen Kawash and Shawn P. George.

The term of long-serving board member Ellen Cappellanti as chairman expired, and Lloyd Jackson was approved as the new chairman.

The next meeting of the Clay Center board of directors is 1 p.m. Sept 5.

Current board members 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, Doug 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.

Ex-officio members are: Charles M. Avampato, John Elliot, Alex Franklin, The Honorable David J. Hardy, J. Thomas Jones, Madeleine Nibert and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.

Reach Rosalie Earle@earle@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.


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