Civic Center, other venues, study ticket demand with survey

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — To gauge public interest, a network of 16 performance venues across the state — including Lima’s Veterans Memorial Civic Center — have deployed a survey to see if there’s enough demand for live shows at this stage in Ohio’s statewide reopening.

“While several studies have been done on a national level, we know that every state and community is reacting differently to the pandemic, and it’s important that we understand how Ohioans and our local audience are reacting,” Abe Ambroza, Civic Center CEO, said in a press release.

Under an order signed by Ohio Public Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio closed performance venues and theaters in mid-March. Those rules have since been relaxed, and DeWine announced Thursday that such venues are allowed to reopen on June 10.

Dave Mitchell, general manager of the Performing Arts Center at Kent State University at Tuscarawas, set the statewide initiative for the survey in motion.

“Our industry is making decisions in the interest of the public health and safety to remain closed for now, and we’re working our way through strategies for how and when we move forward,” Mitchell said in a press release. “Surveying our audiences will assist us in formulation those strategies.”

Tafi Stober, executive director of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, said she’s heard differing opinions that reflect both hesitancy and a willingness to return from the Niswonger’s core audience, but survey data should help clarify if the willingness to return will translate to ticket sales.

“We have some people, a large percentage of our audience, who are not concerned about heading back into a large mass gathering. Those are the same people we see grocery shopping that are 65 and within that subset within the highest risk,” Stober said.

Stober estimated that roughly one third of the Niswonger’s core audience have said they are willing to purchase tickets.

Outside of trying to gauge consumer behaviors once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosen coronavirus restrictions, the survey also asks whether ticket buyers would be willing to pay more for a socially-distanced seat.

The survey can be found at The survey link will also be sent to existing customers of each venue via email and social media.

Participating performance venues include the Akron Civic Theater, Canton Palace Theatre, Clark State Performing Arts Center, Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, Marion Palace Theatre, The Midland Theater, Oberlin College and Conservatory, Peoples Bank Theatre, the Performing Arts Center at Kent State Tuscarawas, The Ritz Theatre, the Sandusky State Theatre, the Stocker Arts Center, the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, the Valentine Theatre, Van Wert Live at the Niswonger and Veterans Memorial Civic Center.

Lima News Reporter Tara Jones contributed to this story.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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