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Palm Coast Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 2 years ago

People to Watch in 2017: Sam Perkovich and Nancy Crouch

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With the new outdoor stage in Town Center, 2017 could begin a new entertainment era in Flagler County.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Whereas in Flagler County the music scene mostly features tribute bands, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre has the “real bands.” It’s not a tribute band that sounds like Foreigner playing on the amphitheater stage Feb. 24, it’s Foreigner. Sam Perkovich wants to know, “Why not here?”

“What the recession taught us is that you can’t just be a symphony hall or an opera hall or a rock-and-roll hall because you’re going to die in a recession. You have to be able to handle all of it.”

SAM PERKOVICH, president of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation

“I spent my teenage years going to see the real bands — to see Pink Floyd,” said Perkovich, president of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation. “I’m not really interested in seeing a tribute band.”

She thinks many people in the Baby Boomer generation feel the same way. The only thing missing is the right venue.

Thus, the Palm Coast Arts Foundation is working toward a state-of-the-art facility that would attract names that normally are only seen in St. Augustine and beyond. But that’s a decade in the future, right?

Maybe not. While PCAF Executive Director Nancy Crouch predicts the venue won’t be built for another 10 years, the recent completion of the outdoor stage at PCAF’s property (leased from the city) in Town Center could still make a noticeable difference in the music scene in Flagler County.

“Fall of 2017,” Crouch said in a recent interview. That’s when she’s predicting to host a concert at the stage featuring a band that “people will recognize.” The band has yet to be determined, but that’s the goal, she said.

David Ayres, general manager of five radio stations headquartered in Flagler County, is hoping to partner with PCAF in promoting a new era of entertainment.

“Now’s the time to poke around and find some national acts,” he said. One way to do that is to find acts that are en route to other cities and could make Palm Coast an intermediate stop. “Money will be made, and money will be lost, but (Perkovich and Crouch) know the risks and the rewards, and they’re ready to ante up.”

The Flagler Auditorium, according to Perkovich, doesn’t have a large enough stage or enough seating to attract larger name acts. PCAF’s new outdoor stage is about 4,500 square feet, or three times as big as the auditorium’s stage. That makes it a great fit for something like the Jacksonville Symphony, which is scheduled to play its annual show again in May.

By then, the city plans to have completed restroom facilities on the property, which also makes the venue more viable for bigger shows. And while there is no permanent seating, there is plenty of room behind the stage for lawn-chair seating.

PCAF’s other major goal for 2017 is to begin raising funds for a 60-foot-high roof over the outdoor stage. Cost estimates range from $500,000 to $1 million.

“They’re poised now to grow. They had a launching pad, and now they’ve got a rocket ship.”

DAVID AYRES, general manager of Flagler Broadcasting

“There really isn’t anything quite like what we’re planning,” Perkovich said. “If you build (the roof), you’re going to have to go all the way to Washington, D.C, to get that kind of quality.”

Mayor Milissa Holland is excited about the vision of Perkovich and Crouch and called the new stage “significant.”

“That’s what a community does,” she said. “It allows for families or residents to enjoy amenities they grew up with, and the arts are a very significant part of that.”

“It’s incremental,” Ayres said. “You don’t bring Kenny Chesney to town just because you have a stage, but they’re poised now to grow. They had a launching pad, and now they’ve got a rocket ship.”

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