|Funding was made available in the Economic Development Reserve, approved in 2015 as a 2016 Budget Initiative and designated in the Events Admission Tax line item. The Board approved a feasibility study agreement with Gensler, in association with Webb Management and Sterling Associates, in late October 2016. Cost for Phase I is $40,000. Phase 1 was completed as of June 22, 2017, and Phase II has begun, with a previously approved cost of $58,500. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion has committed to fund 25 percent of the study, not to exceed $25,000.
|The Woodlands Township has contracted with global design firm Gensler, in collaboration with Webb Management, an expert in cultural arts feasibility studies, to conduct the study for the Township. During Phase I of the Cultural Arts Feasibility Study, Gensler and Webb Management reviewed previous studies, conducted current market analyses and trends to determine viability, conducted meetings and interviews in late January to gather information from community members and stakeholders.
At the January 25, 2017, Board of Directors Meeting, Webb Management President Duncan Webb presented a kickoff presentation to the Board, explaining the interview process and schedule for the study. From January 24-27, 2017, representatives from Webb Management personally interviewed approximately 70 community leaders and stakeholders to gain their opinions and ideas on cultural arts needs in The Woodlands.
In addition to the interviews described above, and at the request of the Township Ad Hoc Economic Development Committee, Webb Management developed a public survey that was posted on the Township website to gain insight from the community at large. This survey was heavily promoted through Township communication channels and was online for 30 days with 1,270 respondents.
At the March 22, 2017, Board Meeting, Mr. Webb presented the results and recommendations of Phase I. Mr. Webb concluded that the local market, community support and user demand, in addition to opportunities for high-quality facilities, all indicate a strong need for cultural facilities in The Woodlands. Based on the research, Webb Management recommended nine cultural arts components that address community needs and have potential for success.
The recommendation is for a set of facilities that respond to local and regional demand, that does not currently exist in the region and that will serve the cultural development of The Woodlands. Please note that Webb Management does not view the recommendation as a menu of items to be selected, but rather as a comprehensive set of facilities that can and should be developed over time. The question then becomes where to begin, or which one(s) is/are the highest priority for The Woodlands Township Board of Directors.
The Ad Hoc Economic Development Committee met on June 1, 2017, and again on August 3, 2017, to review project recommendations from Gensler and Webb Management for further study in Phase II. The projects were based on components identified in the needs assessment. Two recommendations came to the forefront: Project A – Arts Center and Project B – Natural Science Museum. Both projects presented a strong case for success, as well as the ability to be combined with other cultural elements. The Arts Center could include performance, rehearsal and teaching space, nonprofit exhibit space, a digital media center and a healing arts center. The Natural Science Museum could include a nature/science museum and an event and exhibit hall. Both options also show strong propensity for support from community partners.
According to the Township’s RFP, Phase II – Management/business Plan and Financial Pro Forma (if necessary) includes the following.
Consultant to propose a timeline as part of the submittal.
1. Operational Analysis
a. Consider potential organizational structures including public and private options that could be developed to operate a cultural arts facility.
b. Develop a business pro forma that includes projected capital and operating costs as well as revenue projections associated with the facility.
c. Propose recommendations on ownership and management structure.
d. Provide impact analysis on existing organizations.
e. Minimum of three case studies of comparable facilities in like-sized communities.
2. Financial Analysis
a. Develop endowment and long-term sustainable funding plan.
b. Consider the projected economic benefit to the community factoring in sales tax and hotel occupancy tax.
c. Identify existing and new revenue streams to support the project.
d. Propose Marketing Strategy.
3. Review other criteria as determined by the Township Board.
Webb Management President Duncan Webb and representatives from Gensler are expected to present the latest information in the study at the August 17, 2017 Board meeting.