A hit year for Ruth Eck­erd

Tampa Bay Times - - Etc - BY AN­DREW MEACHAM Times Per­form­ing Arts Critic Con­tact An­drew Meacham at ameacham@tam­pabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Fol­low @torch437.

The per­form­ing arts venue breaks its ticket sale record a sec­ond straight year.

CLEAR­WA­TER — Since es­tab­lish­ing it­self in the 1980s as a key player in the Tampa Bay per­form­ing arts scene, Ruth Eck­erd Hall has staked out a niche with pop­u­lar mu­sic, jazz and hit mu­si­cals. That for­mula ap­pears to be work­ing.

The venue Thurs­day an­nounced record-break­ing ticket sales for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, or $18.4 million for the year end­ing Sept. 30, 2017. That’s up more than $1.5 million from 2015-16, the pre­vi­ous record.

The hall will con­tinue to ex­pand in pro­gram­ming and new con­struc­tion, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Zev Buff­man said in a pre­pared state­ment. More than a quar­ter-million cus­tomers at­tended 414 concerts, 88 of which sold out. Those kinds of fig­ures, the hall said, are part of the rea­son Ruth Eck­erd was rated fourth na­tion­ally by Poll­star, a trade pub­li­ca­tion, among venues seat­ing 2,500 or less; and 10th in the coun­try by Venues To­day among those ac­com­mo­dat­ing be­tween 2,001 and 5,000.

The news comes as a busy fall sea­son gains mo­men­tum. For Ruth Eck­erd Hall, that starts with spon­sor­ing events such as the Clear­wa­ter Jazz Hol­i­day, fea­tur­ing the likes of the Temp­ta­tions and the Four Tops (Oct. 19), and Kenny Log­gins and Michael McDon­ald (Oct. 21). Many en­dur­ing per­form­ers will be coming through town soon, in­clud­ing Johnny Mathis (Jan. 12), the Moody Blues (Jan. 13), Jack­son Browne (Jan. 18) and Diana Krall (Jan. 30).

For club venues in Florida, Poll­star gave its high­est rat­ing to the Capi­tol Theatre, Ruth Eck­erd’s down­town Clear­wa­ter prop­erty. Re­turn­ing acts in­clude David Crosby (Dec. 9), Art Gar­funkel (Jan. 12-13), and Ge­orge Ben­son (Feb. 20). The Capi­tol has also re­cently added the Henry Rollins Travel Slideshow (Jan 2), Mu­si­cal Thrones — A Game of Thrones Par­ody (Jan. 20), Bela Fleck and the Fleck­tone Trio (Feb. 7), and South­side Johnny and the As­bury Jukes (Feb. 9).

Photo by Gregg McGough

CEO Zev Buff­man said the hall will con­tinue to ex­pand in pro­gram­ming and new con­struc­tion.

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