Auditorium’s bookings top those at VCC

Published 11:57 am Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bookings at the Vicksburg Auditorium soared past those at the Vicksburg Convention Center this last fiscal year, but across the table bookings at both facilities were down slightly from last year’s numbers, Executive Director Larry Gawronski reported during the annual meeting of the advisory board Wednesday.

Nonetheless, Gawronski was optimistic about the new fiscal year, which began this month.

“We feel our income is going to be going up,” he said Wednesday at the organization’s annual meeting. “We feel usage is going to increase at the convention center. We hope to see those numbers at the auditorium, but if the numbers shift back and forth, it’ll be good.”

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In the fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, Venuworks, the management company in charge of both facilities, logged 181 events, down from 186 the previous year. The number of event usage days had dropped to 151 from 205 the previous year.

Revenue from the auditorium soared 41 percent over budget, collecting $94,756 from an expected $67,000 budget.

“That was phenomenal for a building which, primarily, had been a $50,000 or $60,000 per year in income,” Gawronski said. “A lot of events this year couldn’t afford to book the convention center. The auditorium is one rental fits all. It has a not-for-profit component. It has an open catering policy.”

He said the auditorium reached its expected revenue budget in the third quarter.

However, revenue from the convention center was off 12 percent, $376,580 collected, from an expected $425,690 that had been budgeted.

The auditorium operated 19 percent under budget, and the convention center functioned at 6 percent under budget, marking the city’s contributions to $356,433, down from last year when the city provided $408,125.

Gawronski said both venues generated, from 76,466 attendees, $2.42 million in direct spending and $5.1 million in local economic impact this last fiscal year.

Local economic impact is generated by assuming 60 percent of every dollar directly spent is recirculated through the local economy four times.

Gawronski said a specific type of group is being courted this year.

“We’re out there beating the bushes for the association business,” he said. “If we see an opportunity for an association that has not been here, then we’re going after them about meeting here. If they end up choosing us, that’s new business and that’s to the positive.”

In the last fiscal year, new business included state educators associations, spectator entertainment events and state and federal agencies.

As the holiday season approaches, both facilities have events and programs lined up, including the fifth annual Harvest Ball on Nov. 13 at the auditorium, the ninth annual Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 4 and V105.5’s Annual Christmas Caroling Contest on Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 2 and 4 at the convention center.