Kitchener is hoping to bring bigger and better entertainers to the city by taking a more aggressive leadership role at four of its live venues.


They plan on launching a centralized service model for city-owned performing arts and entertainment facilities.


The city announced the new model Wednesday, saying it will increase the quantity and quality of live arts, boost event promotion, attract larger audiences, and make it easier to access online ticket sales.


“In Kitchener, we’re not just talking about building a vibrant arts and culture scene, we’re actively making it happen,” Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said in the city’s news release.


Some of the facilities that will fall under the new centralized service model include Centre in the Square, The Aud, The Registry Theatre, and The Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts.


A culture and entertainment team is also being launched by the city to support the “growth and development of our culture and entertainment industries for years to come.”


Officials also hope the centralized model will help facility operators market to audiences more easily, manage capital assets and share ticketing platforms.


ECONOMIC BENEFIT


Vrbanovic hopes the new model will help the homegrown arts scene and serve as a major economic driver.


“Any time that you have a large show at the Center of the Square, or at The Auditorium, you see the economic benefits across the community. People go out for dinner before the show. Often we get out-of-town tourists who come and stay in our hotels, and that’s exactly what we want to see more of,” he said in an interview with CTV News.


FUTURE OF THE AUD


The City of Kitchener believes The Aud can be more than just home to the Kitchener Rangers.


“It’s an amazing experience to watch a Rangers game but it’s also an amazing experience for a concert,” said Cory Bluhm, the executive director of economic development for the City of Kitchener.


The city believes The Aud is an underused venue, but they hope that changes.


“One of the opportunities that this team will provide is to go out more aggressively in trying to find the promoters that want to bring shows to a place like The Auditorium, and be a little more proactive,” Bluhm explained.


Rob Barkshire, CEO of the Kitchener Blues Festival, said he doesn’t remember the last time he was interested in someone booked at the Aud. He believes the city should have a larger presence in the live entertainment industry but it needs to be aggressive to compete with Toronto and London.


“Many of the touring acts or the promoters do have radius clauses that prevent the act from playing within a certain distance and a certain time of an existing booking or an upcoming booking,” Barkshire said. “The people that are booking the acts into these facilities need to understand who is out, who is touring, what is the landscape, where are those acts are routed.”


So how underused is The Aud? Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont. has 11 music acts scheduled between Aug. 24 and the end of the year. Compare that to The Aud where there is just one performance scheduled.

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