Now that I am publishing my own arts & entertainment blog I have the prerogative of writing about whatever interests me. Of course I will continue to focus primarily on reviews and previews of performing arts events and profiles of artists but I also plan to write about those in other capacities who work behind the scenes to promote the arts. One of those advocates is Scott Hall.
I have regularly covered events at the Palladium at The Center for the Performing Arts since it opened in Jan., 2011, and continue to do so. To expedite arrangements, I rely on the Center’s staff to assist me. I first met Hall over 15 years ago, when we were both wearing different hats. He was recently hired by the center as its new communications and media manager and is now my primary contact. His start date was Sept. 12.
Hall arrives at the Center after 12 years at the University of Indianapolis serving as its director of information/media relations.
Prior to his stint at U. of I., Hall, a Purdue University graduate, with a B.A. in communication with a journalism concentration, was a reporter for the Daily Journal in Johnson County. Previous to that, Hall worked in advertising and PR for Cranfill & Company, as a managing editor for NUVO and as a staff writer for both the Daily Reporter in Greenfield and The Times in Mooresville.
Married to Elizabeth Guipe Hall, a public school art teacher and an artist with a studio at the Harrison Center for the Arts, Hall and his wife have two children.
Recently I sat down with Hall is his office near The Palladium to chat about his position and responsibilities.
Are you still settling in?
It’s been fantastic—aside from the obvious joys of working in an environment like this with artists and musicians and trying to bring the arts to people. What’s been really rewarding to me is finding such a welcoming family here in the office. Internally, everybody has been very warm.
How did find out about the job?
They’ve had an opening in this position for some time. It’s been awhile since there was a primary, dedicated contact for media. They also needed a content provider. Those are the key roles I played in my previous positions. I heard about the opening and this seemed to be a good fit on both sides. We are still in the honeymoon period but I love these folks and they seem to be happy with what I am doing.
What were your duties?
I am a sort of jack of all trades writer. I am involved right now in writing news releases, coming up with copy for our magazines, marketing emails, marketing efforts, and a little bit of correspondence I am assisting with for some of the administration here.
How well known is the Center?
Our visibility is great. We are already known as one of the most recognized arts organizations in Central Indiana.
Does the Center have a regional presence?
It really is happening. It’s a long term vision that Mayor Brainard has to use the arts as economic development and a quality of life building tools, much in the way city leaders in Indianapolis focus on sports.,
Have you been able to track where people are coming from?
Yes. There have been patrons here from every county in Indiana and from many states and foreign countries.
What are the Center’s challenges moving forward?
Our facility is certainly well know and I think our schedule is getting out there. People are aware of our programming but it is still, generally speaking, a young venue. It’s only been here for five years. When you talk about entering the arts and entertainment market, there’s still a bit of a growth curve in terms of becoming a part of people’s routines. If people are not accustomed to coming to Carmel for the arts or entertainment, there is still a lot of education we need to do to make the venue and the offerings here seem more accessible. We need to let people know that it is not hard to get here and that it is not an exclusive place just for the elite. This is an arts organization for the community and we have things to offer to people of all ages and all interests.
Any other challenges?
The other thing that is true about Indianapolis as in many cities, is that there is the dichotomy of stereotyping different parts of town. There is the Northside concept and the Southside concept. A lot of times, residents in those areas don’t overlap. I think it is based on outdated notions of residential patterns—lives where and what the demographics are.
It appears that the Center is increasingly promoted as a community gathering space. Is that a conscious effort?
These facilities are owned by the city, which the Center manages on behalf of it. On one hand, because we are in marketing and communications, we are very focused on selling tickets and bringing people to the shows. But I think the big part we can do better on is publicizing the other things we do as a not for profit arts organization. For instance, we have a number of remarkable education programs and outreach programs to bring people from the community and enrich their lives. We have programs that involve senior citizens and programs that involve school kids
How much of a challenge is it for you to promote a performing arts venue?
I like to think of it more as a culmination. My professional career has been based largely on writing. I was a newspaper writer and editor for 14 years and mostly in Central Indiana. But my passion on the side—my hobby or personal interest, has always been music. I am a great music fan and have written about music for many years since leaving college. I was a columnist and a long time contributor to NUVO covering mostly music concerts. I am also musician and a lot of my friends are musicians,
What is your instrument?
I play guitar. I think one of the reasons I think I was selected for this position was because I have sort of a unique skill set which involves having been a journalist and understanding the mindset and the needs of journalists and knowing how to work with them—knowing what is reasonable for them to expect of us and what is reasonable for us to expect from them. I also understand music. I don’t know how many music interviews I have done but I have spent a lot of time talking with musicians. I have never been a professional musicians but I understand the other side of the fence to a certain extent. And then after I left full time journalism I went into PR and communications. In the course of that I learned a lot about public relations and being on the other side of the media. I felt like my main job was to make sure that everybody is being treated fairly and reasonably.
It sounds like you have the ideal skill set for this job.
I think I do. The journalism side, the public relations side, and my musical interests. I also learned a lot about the field of not for profit organizations and what it takes to keep them afloat and staying tuned into the needs of donors and community partners.
You really are the total package aren’t you?
I don’t want to be too laudatory about myself but I think that is what the people saw here and that is how I presented myself. The other thing too is I have a couple decades of contacts on the media side, on the arts side and I have been able to draw on that.
What do you hope to accomplish in your position, long term?
My colleagues and I come to work every day knowing that we’re blessed with a very special opportunity here, perhaps unique in the nation, given these amazing facilities established by the city and the high level of community support that we enjoy. I think our goal, certainly mine, is to cement the local and national reputation of the Center as a welcoming place where audiences of all ages and tastes – and the artists themselves – have unforgettable experiences.
For tickets and information about the Center for the Performing arts call (317) 843-3800 or visit www.thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.