HEADING SOUTH: Ty Sutton comes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts from Dayton Live. (Courtesy venue)
Industry Veteran To Take Over For Departing Kelley Shanley
Ty Sutton is flying south for the winter. In February, the 20-year venue veteran takes over as president and CEO of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Sutton, who has served in the same capacity at Dayton Live in Dayton, Ohio, starts on Feb. 12 and succeeds Kelley Shanley, who announced in May that he would be stepping down in March 2024.
“In a lot of ways, I wanted to take over a well-run organization,” explained Sutton. “I have had the opportunity to build new buildings and open new buildings, and have been through a lot of startups. In this position – the reputation, the way it functions, the way the audience things about it – were all big factors for me.”
Shanley spent 25 years with the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 14 as president and CEO, and is credited with creating an affiliated venue management approach that includes The Parker, a 50-year-old iconic theater in Fort Lauderdale that 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.
The multi-venue management structure is familiar territory for Sutton who has more than two decades of arts management experience in the performing arts sector. Since 2018, he has served as president and CEO of the nonprofit Dayton Live, which owns and operates five facilities, including the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center and the restored Victoria Theatre.
“I’ve now run several multi venue organizations and so an organization with multiple venues was an absolute on my list,” Sutton said. “Because it gives you options to put the right show in the right type of venue.”
Sutton has been instrumental in the transformation of Dayton’s downtown cultural scene attracting more than 400,000 visitors each year. The Broward Center is the cultural anchor of downtown Fort Lauderdale with 700 performances a year attracting 700,000 guests. The venue has received recognition as a Pollstar Top 10 Theater based on audience attendance and in 2020 was nominated for Pollstar Theater of the Decade.
Sutton said he was attracted to the diversity of the community and the programming opportunities that represents.
“I was looking for a diverse community that could support diverse programing because I think it’s an important part of our mission to make sure we are reaching as wide an audience as possible,” Sutton offered. “Broward Center has a reputation that is well earned for being on the forefront of that in the country. Broward Country and South Florida itself is such a diverse place in terms of the people who live there and the kind of programing they want.”
Guest experiences at the Broward Center include the all-inclusive Spirit Club Level, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Intermezzo Lounge, special events in the Huizenga Pavilion, waterfront dining at Marti’s New River Bistro and innovative classes and workshops for all ages at the Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center.
Building on that success is a challenge Sutton is ready for. “That’s what the adventure will be,” he said. “It’s more about my process to listen to the staff, the board and trustees – it’s their organization. What is most interesting is that they are entrepreneurial and always looking to grow and serve more people. They aren’t afraid to operate like a for-profit would while never forgetting the nonprofit driven mission. To me, that combination is really exciting.”
Among Sutton’s accomplishments at Dayton Live was opening the PNC Arts Annex. Sutton orchestrated a complete rebranding and launched a programming model that led to a significant increase in the variety and frequency of the organization’s shows. The result was a record number of Broadway subscribers and ticket sales.
Sutton is passionate about bringing arts experiences to the entire community and fostering arts education, which has been a strong focus of the Broward Center and its affiliated venues, which has one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the country, serving 130,000 students annually.
“Education is a cornerstone of what I was looking for,” said Sutton, who is married to an arts educator and has two children (ages 9 and 14). “I see the real effect on them and their friends of having positive arts experiences, so for me, it’s about creating an audience for the future.”
In 2021, Sutton opened the Dayton Live Creative Academy with the mission to increase participation and education in the performing arts, especially for young people. Much like the education programs at the Broward Center’s Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center, the Dayton Live Academy now runs year-round, providing classes and performance opportunities to all ages.
A native of the San Francisco Bay area, Sutton is a graduate of the University of Utah, where he got his start renting small venues to host concerts and later serving as programming director for the University of Utah Presenters Office. Before Dayton Live, he worked in venue management with the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic and Paralympic Games and with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
Sutton has experience opening Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center in Midland, Texas and managed a complete renovation of Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. He also recreated the use of venues as the first executive director of the Butler Arts Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
He is a member of the Broadway League and serves on the League’s Intra-Industry Committee. He was recognized for his experience in managing multiple venues in sports and entertainment with a Certified Venue Executive award (CVE) from the International Association of Venue Managers.
“I guarantee that we’ll get up to some good trouble,” Sutton said with a laugh.