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WIU To Sell Naming Rights of Center for Performing Arts

Western Illinois University plans to sell off the naming rights for portions of the soon to be constructed Center for Performing Arts.

Now that Governor Pat Quinn has releasedthe $71.8 million needed to build the Center for Performing Arts. Western can move forward with selling the naming rights for the Center's theatres, green rooms, seats and more.

There are 18 naming opportunities available including:

  • Proscenium Theatre - $7.5 million
  • Thrust Theatre - $1.5 million
  • Studio Theatre - $800,000

Director of Development Mick Cumbiesays they opportunities range from $50,000 to $7.5 million. Five of the 18 cost a million dollars or more.

"We have 18 naming opportunities in the building and if we are able to solicit donations for three, four or five of those that would actually be very successful," said Cumbie. "For the most part we are dealing with donors we already have a relationship with. When you are talking about these price points from $50,000 and upward. The people we anticipate to have both an interest and capability we already know."

Western has already sold off the naming rights for the Center's Gallery for $1.5 million.

The public campaign for donations will begin when the Center's construction gets underway late this year or early next.

"The state is building the building and some of the infrastructure in the building. The lighting for instance, that's all part of the construction. But we have need for a couple of Steinway pianos for instance. We have need for other equipment purchases not covered by the state and the money we raise through naming opportunities will also go toward that," Cumbie said.

Western will also be selling the naming rights for the seats in two of the Center's three theaters. The seats in the Studio Theatre are removable and ineligible for purchase.

Proscenium Theatre (Great Hall) - 1,500 seats available

  • 1 seat for $1,000
  • 2 seats for $1,500

Thrust Theatre - 250 seats available

  • 1 seat for $500
  • 2 seats for $750

Western will offer payment plans that span the two to three year construction period for those interested in purchasing the naming rights for seats.

'That way it makes it extremely affordable for folks," said Cumbie. "It's a lot easier to think of $50 or $75 a month over time than it is a $1,000 in one fell swoop."

For seat naming, the industry standard is that donors are given three or four lines with a character limit per line.

"I can easily see: in honor of, in memory of or your name with your graduation year. We hope that parents will get involved and name a seat for their student. We will offer as much flexibility that can easily fit on a plaque," said Cumbie.

Western's naming policy for new construction requires a donor to provide 51% of the monetary value of the object being named. Cumbie says it was unreasonable for the University to expect a single $37 million  donation in order to sell the name of the Center for Performing Arts. He says that's why they decided to sell naming rights to specific portions of the Center.

The Center for Performing Arts [.pdf] is scheduled to open in early 2018.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.