MAPLE LEAF BRIEFS: Entertainment tax; director search; naming rights; permit received

Maple Leaf still pursuing $1 entertainment tax

The Indiana General Assembly did not vote on a bill last session that would create a new, $1 entertainment tax to help fund the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center.

Commissioner Diana Biddle is going to work on getting that back in front of the Indiana General Assembly next session. She believes it’ll have a better chance of receiving a vote this time since it’s a budget year.

Financial plans for the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center included getting $1 per ticket from this entertainment tax, which has to be approved at the state level. The tax would only apply to a government-owned, indoor music venue, which the Maple Leaf will be.

Co-president Barry Herring said the group has adjusted its fee structure in case the tax does not pass. He said the decision was made to increase the “facility fee” charged on each ticket from $2 to $3, after the bill was not voted on during last legislative session.

“It will still be great to have that option,” Herring said about the entertainment tax.

Deadline shortened for Maple Leaf director search

The committee choosing the executive director of the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center is narrowing down the list of applicants.

Originally, the deadline to receive resumes was Aug. 31, but that was moved to July 31. Bruce Gould, the HR/staffing committee chair for the Maple Management Group, said he had already received 40 applications from posting the opening on various websites, and by the last week of July, the total was over 70.

He said he was able to narrow the pool down to 20. A selection committee was to go over the remaining resumes to narrow the pool further. Commissioner Diana Biddle, management group co-president Barry Herring, management group construction committee chair Jim Schultz and Gould serve on that selection committee.

Four applicants will then be interviewed via camera or by phone. Then, the pool will be narrowed to two or three.

The final picks will come to Brown County for in-person interviews. They also will go through “intensive background checks,” along with drug testing and possibly a personal credit check.

Biddle suggested the management group use the county’s personnel policy since the management group doesn’t have one in place. “Use that for now as a guideline so we have a policy that will work. The Maple Leaf is separate, but it’s not,” Biddle said.

Gould said an executive director most likely would not be hired by Aug. 31. The goal is to have an executive director in place no later than Nov. 1, said Kevin Ault, Brown County Convention and Visitors Commission president.

Herring said that booking agent LiveNation is encouraging the group to get an executive director hired so the company can begin booking acts for the venue.

He said LiveNation also is suggesting hiring a separate marketing director. Gould said some of the applicants for executive director could re-apply for that job since they have marketing experience.

County residents asked Maple Leaf leaders about staffing for the venue back in December. They estimated that the Maple Leaf would have an estimated six to 10 full-time employees, plus other part-timers during events. The executive director’s job would be to oversee theater operations and staffing; the other staff could work in sound and lighting, security, marketing and concessions.

Maple Leaf consulting attorney about naming rights

The Maple Leaf Management Group is engaging a law firm to help with naming rights for the music venue’s beer garden.

Co-president Barry Herring suggested hiring the firm to put together a contract with local brewery Quaff ON!, “to make sure liability is in the right place.” The cost will be $275 per hour with Indianapolis law firm Clark Quinn, which also works with LiveNation on all legal issues, Herring said during a meeting July 24. The Maple Leaf is talking to LiveNation to help book concerts for the under-construction music hall.

Clark Quinn will be able to guide the management group through the liquor permit process, too, Herring said.

Herring said the management group wants to get an agreement in writing to put in front of anyone interested in naming rights, to start a conversation. “It’s not even close to a final agreement,” he said.

DNR permit received for Maple Leaf site

The Maple Leaf Management Group now has a permit in hand from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources that will allow them to move dirt in the construction site to a nearby flood zone.

Part of the music venue’s 13-acre building site is in a flood zone, and until the group received the DNR permit, they could not place the dirt exactly where it had planned.

That permit was received this month.

Kevin Ault said Aug. 9 during a Brown County Convention and Visitors Commission meeting that based on the construction bids that came in, the management group had to change the level of the ground for the venue. The DNR permit application was based on the original ground levels, so that required a change to the permit.

Ault serves as co-president of the management group and president of the CVC.

He said that once the foundation and floors are poured, a lot change orders that have been happening with the project will stop. Change orders, like having to move dirt twice due to the permit issue, would be funded by the project’s contingency line. Around $400,000 is in that line for unforeseen issues, Ault said.