Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023 – Savannah District 4 Councilman Nick Palumbo talks about a quiet council vote that may have saved the future of the Johnny Mercer Theater.

Paul Mazo is an event designer and producer at Stage Front, working on everything from large corporate events to concerts.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

I have read many articles and letters from people about the Johnny Mercer Theater and would like to bring a unique perspective to the narrative – someone who has hosted live events there for over 30 years.

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I am a proponent of keeping the Johnny Mercer Theater because a few years ago it was announced that the previous city council planned to destroy it and the MLK Arena when the NMarket Arena was completed.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

As an event professional who has worked on hundreds of theater events, from dance recitals to large concerts, I bring a perspective that no other writer can.

I also want to share facts to reinforce the narrative that the Johnny Mercer Theater is an essential part of Savannah’s arts and entertainment scene.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

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First let’s talk about the sound system. Many people comment that theaters have poor sound systems. You should understand that the installed sound system was designed to play light music and as a sound reinforcement system for community events. It was never designed for high-level concert use. With this in mind, many road shows bring their own sound systems that are set up just for their show and go away when they are done. These systems are clearly designed for use in venues of all sizes and are often too large for theaters.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

Tour sound engineers often don’t realize that the theater was built as a performance theater specifically with symphonic performances in mind, which is why you see the “clouds” overhead: their purpose is to direct the acoustic sound into the audience so everyone can hear. Performance

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When tour engineers overmix (read: overmix), they create problems by making the overall sound more mush-like than enhancing the intelligibility and clarity of the show, hence the room’s nickname of “bad” sound.

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Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

By controlling the sound coming from the stage and spending some time working on the levels in the room, shows can sound great. I’ve seen so many shows over the last year where people were commenting on how great it sounded. I know this because I was in the audio booth and received those comments most of my time.

Next, let’s address the production services installed in the theater. Not only does it have a (basic) sound system, but it also has a lighting system installed that has recently been upgraded with several new LED lighting fixtures and a new lighting console so that the system can be used for a wide variety of events. Rental equipment must be brought.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

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Also known as a “fly system”, this is a complex system of pipes, ropes and weights that allows stage elements (such as backdrops and drapes and even hanging LED video walls and projection screens) to be attached on the fly. And move in and out as needed. It is an integral part of any true theatrical performance and cannot be duplicated in the arena without great, perhaps ridiculous, expense.

In recent years, millions of dollars have been spent to upgrade the old flight system to current specifications, making it efficient and safe for the people who work and perform on stage.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

A former city manager argued at a previous town hall that the arena could be upgraded to match the theater’s capacity. Can’t get away from the truth.

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This isn’t a dig against Enmarket Arena, as it’s a great, well-thought-out facility, but it doesn’t have a performance sound system installed. It is a center mounted “PA” system that is used primarily for sporting events and we plan to use it for Chatham County High School graduations this year (well worth it). Any performance would have to bring in a sound system, with the promoter or house paying the price (between $5,000 and more than $20,000 depending on the system).

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Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

The new stadium does not have a show lighting system, so any event will have to bring in an overhead lighting system that, at its most basic, can cost $5,000 and additional labor to install.

For any scenic area flight system, there is nothing of its kind available in the arena. Again, someone would have to foot the bill to bring such an item, if it existed. I have been doing arena events for over 40 years and have never seen a portable grid/flight system and the costs would be through the roof. (no pun intended).

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

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If they choose to do an intimate, theater-like show in the new arena, they will hang a floor-to-ceiling curtain the length of the arena to make it half a room for smaller theater audiences, which could cost more. $7,500 before wages to hang on to, who pays that?

The reason I mention all this is because the arena is just that: an arena, not a theater.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

If you take a look at the acts at Johnny Mercer last year, you’ll see everything from country to R&B to rock using all the house lighting and audio equipment. Theater is used a lot. Just google Savannah Civic Center events and you’ll see Aaron Lewis, The Fab Four…even Disney princesses in concert. Do you understand? None of these are arena shows.

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In Savannah, we have the Cultural Arts Center with about 400 seats in the auditorium, the Lucas Theater (operated by SCAD) with about 1,200 seats, the SCAD Theater, also with about 1,100 seats, and we have the Mercer with about 2,500 seats.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

Roadshows using Mercer must have so many places to make money; They can’t just transition a show to a mid-sized theater and expect to pocket nothing after the show (and they’re in the business of making money).

If we lose the Johnny Mercer Theater, all the shows we’ve been hoping to come to town won’t happen – they’ll go to theaters in Charleston or Jacksonville, and there’ll be a huge void in our entertainment menu in our hometown. .

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

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Yes, I have a personal interest in maintaining the theatre: I work there. I make my living in the events and entertainment business, and I feel that losing that would be a terrible legacy to leave to our children and grandchildren, not to mention others. Savannah needs our 2,500 seat theater – the Johnny Mercer Theater. The campaign to preserve and renovate the Johnny Mercer Theater is short sighted. Instead, restore Elbert Square and the historic street pattern and offer the remaining space for redevelopment.

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Savannah District 4 Councilman Nick Palumbo offers an update on the future of the Civic Center as the arena nears its grand opening.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

Take down that monstrosity. Everything: arena, theater and lobby and meeting rooms in between. Every square inch ugly and acoustically challenged.

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Finally, bring in engineers, urban planners and landscape architects to restore the street grid pattern of Elbert Square and Oglethorpe, historic elements erased as part of urban center development.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

The plan was to clean up the biggest mistake of Savannah’s urban renewal era. New arenas opened; Civic center closed. The new venue was specifically designed to host everything that was held at the old venue, from sports to concerts and stage shows to monster truck rallies. Obsolete, the civic center was to be demolished, the site was redeveloped.

However, as reporter Will Peebles described it in a series of stories published this week, the Civic Center, or at least part of the Johnny Mercer Theater, could miss its date with the wrecking ball. Keeping Mercer as a medium-sized performance venue is important to Savannah’s group, and city officials want to hear from them.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

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Meanwhile, City Manager Jay Melder has city staff studying potential uses for the remaining space, including additional municipal facilities. The expectation is that the City Council will have options detailed in April, before the May operating contract deadline.

In retrospect, the plan to develop the arena and remove the Civic Center came together too much to become a reality in this city.

Savannah Civic Center Events 2023

The city insisted that the arena be configured for Mercer Theater-sized shows, not just full-capacity events, and that it be equipped to handle heavy rigging, lighting and other stage props.

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