Chatting with Paul Beutel
By Rob Faubion

     Since opening its doors one year ago, The Long Center for the Performing Arts has quickly become a fixture in the Austin arts world.  In the short 12 months of its existence on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, the retrofitted Palmer Auditorium facility has hosted operas, ballets, concerts, musicals, plays, and performances of every artistic vein.
     A few months ago, Long Center master mind Cliff Redd secured Paul Beutel to become the Managing Director of The Long Center.  For 15 years, Beutel guided the historic Paramount Theatre from obscurity to icon status, before decamping to Houston in 2004 to manage the Miller Outdoor Theatre.  Now he’s back in Austin, taking The Long Center into its second year of producing and programming.  
     Beutel took a few minutes to discuss The Long Center’s place in Austin and what’s in store for the coming year.  Congratulations on the first year of
Paul Beutel (photo courtesy The Long Center for the Performing Arts)
operations at The Long Center.  Now that it’s been almost a whole year since the doors opened, how do you see the role of The Long Center in Austin today, and how has that changed from when the doors first opened twelve months ago?

Paul Beutel:  The role of The Long Center has not changed.  The Long Center exists to provide performance space and support services to the founding resident companies of Dell Hall - the Austin Symphony, Ballet Austin and Austin Lyric Opera - as well as provide space and services for the many smaller and diverse performing arts organizations who use the Rollins Studio Theatre.   In addition, the Long Center presents outstanding national and international artists in the “Long Center Presents” series.   The Long Center facilities also serve as a community gathering place for meetings, receptions and other functions both public and private. I know that there have been recent media reports of “boot strapping” and reprogramming at The Long Center - understandably due to the current economy.  In a nutshell, what changes have taken place and why?

P.B.: Like any new organization, The Long Center has faced the challenges of achieving operating efficiencies.  The challenge has been compounded, of course, by the current economic climate.  As we have learned more about what it takes to operate the Center on a daily basis, we have confronted the economic challenges and managed to trim our operating budget by an amazing 20%.  
    The budget trimming did involve the elimination of eight staff positions and job re-ordering.  Client and audience services, however, have not been compromised.  Along with the mainstream choices for programming, there have been some really exciting, non-conventional programming during the past year.  How are the decisions on “what to pick” and “what to pass on” made in terms of programming at The Long Center?

P.B.:  Part of my role as Managing Director is to program our “Long Center Presents” series of touring artists and attractions.  The Programming and Marketing Committee from the Board of Directors serves as my sounding board and advisory group for programming choices.
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