Big acts help Chandler Center mark 30 years

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the Chandler Center for the Arts will feature some major performers over the coming year, and the lineup hits full throttle this summer with actor John Cusack hosting a screening of “Say Anything” on Aug. 25 and rocker Melissa Ethridge performing July 13. (Special to GetOut)

Chandler Center for the Arts general manager Michelle Mac Lennan is living out her dreams with the venue’s 30th anniversary season.

It kicks off with Melissa Etheridge on July 13, and continues with the likes of Squeeze (Sept. 15), Strangelove: The Depeche Mode Experience (Saturday, Aug. 24) and then John Cusack (Sunday, Aug. 25) hosting a screening of “Say Anything.”

“I’m having an ’80s dream fulfilled every minute of every day,” Mac Lennan says with a laugh. “I think we finally have built the team and put all the pieces into place. We’re ready for this new brand and new identity.”

The new brand identity is the result of an extensive strategic marketing project for the Chandler Center for the Arts, made possible with funding from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

The project included multipronged market research analysis of current audiences and nonattendees with 3,800 community surveys, 12 focus groups, internal data analysis and third-party marketing assessments.

The findings were used to develop a tactical and strategic marketing plan for Chandler Center for the Arts to increase attendance and program participation, as well as enrich its brand recognition and perception.

“We started to see a huge uptick in attendance — a 45 percent increase in attendance,” she says. “It was significant. I always felt it was possible. We have good shows. We didn’t have the marketing to get us quite where we needed us to go. That limited what we could program.

“If you don’t have the resources to market it, you can’t book shows like John Cusack. We had that big increase. We had money and we were able to invest in this new brand.”

An updated look for the Chandler Center for the Arts was among the recommendations made to have an image that reflected the dynamic space that the center had become in the community.

“We had the same brand since 1989, just in many iterations,” Mac Lennan says. “It was the same look and feel. It was stale and needed updating. We hired a firm and, through the grant, we also had a new logo and brand, and a new graphic designer as well.

“We knew this 30th anniversary was coming. It was the perfect time to roll out the new brand. We’ve been working on this for three years. We rolled it out in March.”

Laura Schairer of Audience Magnets, an Arizona-based firm specializing in performing arts marketing, was the consultant on the marketing project. Surale Phillips of Decision Support Partners Inc. did market research, and Rodd Whitney of Cause Design created the new graphic identity.

The revolving “C” in the new brand design comprises the encircling warmth of the community, the center’s function as a central gathering space at the heart of Chandler, as well as the center’s unique design with three revolving theaters, Mac Lennan says.

The new logo also alludes to Chandler’s origins, founded among rows of agricultural canals and now residing in the grids and circuits of today’s high-tech industries.

The logo is a multilayered symbol, a moving representation of the center’s history, the future and the special place in the city.

The center is also embarking on capital projects to enhance the patron experience. Renovations include state-of-the-art lighting, sound and projection systems, upgraded lobby finishes and new signage.

Mac Lennan says she purposely went all out to celebrate the Chandler Center’s anniversary. The new look has been well received.

“We have more shows coming,” she promises. “I intentionally went for bold and vibrant things we hadn’t done before. You want to make a splash when you have the opportunity. With the economy being well, you seize the day.

“I know I’m doing well when I get 70 texts from friends asking how they get tickets to John Cusack. He was everyone’s ’80s crush. People have lost their minds. This is my era. I know this music like the back of my hand. It’s extra fun for me because, previously, I had to do research on the demographics.”

Eight more shows are expected to be announced, and then others as they come along. For $50 patrons can become Chandler Center for the Arts members and receive perks like pre-purchasing opportunities. The summer concert series will feature local and regional bands. For the complete lineup of shows, visit chandlercenter.org.

Still, she — like area arts patrons — is smitten with the Cusack show.

“It’s the actual 30th anniversary of ‘Say Anything,’” she says. “With that one, all of my dreams have been fulfilled.”

Information: 480.782.2680, chandlercenter.org

 

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