Nederlander and TAG Presents Form Venture in Austin, Launch Venue Called Skyline Theater

Courtesy Photo
The new Skyline Theater live space will be located outside Austin's Long Center for the Performing Arts.

Nederlander Concerts and Austin-based independent promoter TAG Presents have partnered to form Paragon Presents, which will book and produce live events throughout Austin and the surrounding markets, starting with the 7,000-capacity Skyline Theater at the Long Center, a newly developed venue at Austin's Long Center for the Performing Arts.

The Skyline Theater is located on the grounds of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, situated in the heart of downtown Austin, overlooking Ladybird Lake. In a multi-year contract, Paragon Presents will be the exclusive promoter for productions at the Skyline and will present a wide range of concerts and productions.

"We truly want to make this the most fan-centric venue in the industry, and we're willing to take chances and try things and break down every part of the fan experience and figure out how to make it the best and change that paradigm," says Paul Thornton, who, prior to founding TAG, launched Bravo Entertainment in Boise, Idaho. Over the course of 13 years, Thornton grew Bravo from a start-up to more than 200 employees, producing 700 events per year across 19 states, and owning and operating multiple venues. Thornton sold Bravo to Knitting Factory Entertainment in 2007 and launched TAG later that year to present live music attached to sports events, including Formula 1 US Grand Prix, the ESPN X Games, Austin Fan Fest, RedFest, and the Honda Ski Tour. Recently, TAG led the design and management of the 14,000 capacity Austin360 Amphitheater.

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The Austin venture is a notable expansion for Nederlander Concerts, a boutique event promotion firm that operates and programs such popular California venues as the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara Bowl, Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, City National Grove of Anaheim, and City National Civic of San Jose. In addition, the company promotes events at third party arenas, theatres and clubs up and down the West Coast, including the Greek Theatre, Galen Center at the University of Southern California, San Diego Civic, RIMAC Arena at UC San Diego, and Raley Field in Sacramento. Nederlander also partners in booking and promoting shows at the Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center.

Nederlander CEO Alex Hodges says his national staff and resources will augment Paragon's efforts in Austin. "Paul is local and has local relationships and people to put into place to do all of the functions," says Hodges. "We're looking for Paul to take the lead on doing the shows and marketing with the team he has put together, he has tremendous resources, but we're a full-fledged partner and happy to add what we can in resources and our sense of energy and vision into what Paul is doing locally."

The Long Center is a non-profit primarily funded by private citizens and corporations, and is home to Austin's Symphony, Opera and Ballet. Skyline Theater will utilize existing amenities offered at the Long Center during events, including indoor restrooms and air-conditioned spaces, star dressing rooms, backstage catering, and VIP spaces.  The venue will also utilize the existing Long Center production team and tech equipment, and will be ticketed through the Long Center box office using Spectra — Ticketing & Fan Engagement.  This joint venture will use the Long Center's existing staff for marketing, event services, ticketing and concessions, while Paragon Presents will book and promote shows.

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The launch of Paragon returns Thornton to his independent promoter roots. "We're really about making the connection to the fans' hearts, the artists' hearts, and not everyone's wallets," he says of his partnership with Hodges. "I hope we can help create a movement where it gets back to working with independent promoters in markets they truly know where they can be a part of that creativity again, and get away from accountants driving what this industry is doing."

While the Skyline is Paragon's initial focus, the partnership will also look to doing concerts and events in other venues and markets. "We're open to do business, and when the right shows in the right markets make sense, let's do it," says Thornton. "A lot of what we did at Bravo and why we stayed under the radar a bit is we worked in a lot of secondary and tertiary markets, but when you take great music into those markets that are under served, you see the love in the fans of that experience, and that's what I want to capture."

Adds Hodges, "We believe we're adding something in terms of options and we're adding TLC and vision to the live concert space. We're not trying to take on the world, we're trying to add to the experience for artists and fans."


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