Effective Feb. 12, Ty Sutton, CVE, becomes president and CEO of Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, replacing Kelley Shanley, who announced he was stepping down in May. Sutton’s latest move leaves another big opening for a new president and CEO at Dayton Live in Ohio, where he has served since 2018.
Sutton said the Dayton job will be posted on the IAVM job board and hopes his IAVM colleagues will be interested in a great opportunity. He has been a member of IAVM since 2002 and attended Venue Management School (VMS) in the late 2000s.
The Broward County job is a great fit for Sutton. “Broward County and Ft. Lauderdale are booming. It’s changed a lot. There is a need for more programming and more venues,” he said.
“It’s exciting to me to work with a board that wants to figure out what is the next thing. How do we build on our success? They want to keep growing and pushing forward. That’s what interests me.”
No one knows yet what that next thing is. Possibly more experiential programming, participatory events, the interactive side, an amphitheater, more theaters, more theater management? “That’s the fun of working with a board and employees who want to serve the community,” Sutton said.
Sutton will answer to the Performing Arts Center Authority (PACA), the 13-member volunteer board that governs the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for the state. The operation also includes a nonprofit foundation arm for fundraising. The Center has an annual operating budget of $60 million, which includes operation of four venues.
Besides Broward Center, Sutton will oversee its affiliated venues including The Parker, an iconic theater in Fort Lauderdale which was fully restored in 2021, the Rose & Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center on the campus of Nova Southeastern University, and the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center in Miami-Dade County.
He’s especially pleased Broward Center has one of the largest education programs in the country. “I love that and always worked to create education programs [in all my buildings]. Last year, something like 130,000 students attended performances as part of what they do. My wife is a ballet dancer/instructor and arts educator. I’ve always been around the education side.”
Broward Center is also consistently cited as one of the best venues in the country by trade publications, including Pollstar and VenuesNow, which consistently rank it among the top 10 in the world in terms of ticket sales and attendance.
“I love putting on shows, because that’s what gets people excited and what our business is about,” Sutton said.
He also likes “to create new things and fix things. I’m not a great caretaker, that’s not my personality. I really enjoy the challenge of doing new things.”
Sutton credits networking at IAVM with directly helping him find new opportunities.
In the case of Broward Center, he was recruited by James Abruzzo, DHR Global, who “has written the book on the nonprofit side of performing arts.” He had known about the opening directly from Shanley, whom he has worked with on several projects.
Asked the highlight of his 20-plus years in the business, starting with the 2002 Olympics and Paralympics in Salt Lake City where he ran the men’s hockey venue, and on to professional hockey at the Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., before moving to the performing arts side, Sutton could not name just one. “I tore down a building and rebuilt one in Colorado [Lincoln Center in Fort Collins], opened a brand new building in Texas [Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center in Midland], and created a performing arts center in Indianapolis from a bunch of existing things [Butler Arts Center].”
“The through line is that I love to create venues that are places people want to go to and are consistently busy. Leaving behind a legacy of successful buildings is probably the one thing I would point to in my whole career. I have left a lot of buildings, and they continued to have success because we’ve created a process, platform and organization to do that long term. It’s that legacy. I love doing that. I think Dayton will be successful for a very long time as well.”
Dayton Live is a nonprofit organization that owns and operates five performance venues, including the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center and the beautifully restored Victoria Theatre, and attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually. Sutton has been instrumental in the transformation of downtown’s cultural fabric.
In his past, IAVM has been very instrumental in his job opportunities. A year after he left the Olympics, where he had worked with Scott Lasker, he needed a new job. “I was talking to Scott, and he said a friend that he went to VMS with was looking for someone to run event services in Southern California. He called his friend, who called me, and I literally got hired over the phone, because they knew because of their IAVM experience that I knew what I was doing. I worked there several years and had a great experience.
“IAVM is a network of people who trust each other, because of the experience and education they bring.”
Sutton’s advice to new members of IAVM is to be open to saying ‘yes.’ “My career has taken me from Calif. to Ohio [and now Florida]. The reason I became a GM very young is I was willing to look at new opportunities. Evaluate each opportunity. That’s led to a lot of success.”
“A lot of younger employees have a plan, and it’s great to have one, but keep getting educated and participating. IAVM opened a lot of doors for me.”
Sutton is a member of the Broadway League, a Tony Awards voter, and serves on the League’s Intra-Industry Committee. Sutton earned a BA in Political Science at the University of Utah, where he began renting small venues to host concerts and later served as programming director for the University of Utah Presenters Office, a path that led to working in the commercial concert business.
He will move in February, and his wife, Polly Creer Sutton, and two children ages 9 and 14, will follow in the summer after school ends. His kids are excited, he said. “With all these moves, there’s the unknown, but there are a lot worse places than the beautiful beaches in Florida.”