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Mixed martial arts at the Wang Theatre?

Posted by Geoff Edgers  February 27, 2010 08:22 AM

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Yes, the word “arts” is in the title. But is the May 6 “Bellator Fighting Championship” – a mixed martial arts event – the true purpose of the Wang Theatre? 

Absolutely, says Citi Performing Arts Center CEO Josiah Spaulding Jr. 

The center’s financial and other problems have been well documented. Spaulding points out that the martial arts event, which is a four-wall rental – meaning the Citi Center isn’t involved, other than to hand over its building for the night – can help keep the lights on.

“We have an obligation to rent the building at full rates to whoever wants to rent it,” he told me this week. “This rental, to promote the building to the fastest growing sport of a worldwide television audience, is a good thing.”

Spaulding points out that while the center’s 50 percent occupancy rate is the same as   last year’s, the shows being brought into the Wang are selling more tickets. But do the other shows scheduled for the Wang this year, including pop star Mariah Carey, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, and comedienne Chelsea Handler, line up with the center’s mission?

Spaulding said it is a misconception that the Citi Center, because of its non-profit status, is not supposed to feature commercial artists and events. With the exit of Boston Ballet last year, that means there’s an increasing emphasis on star-centered, one nighters.

He then referred me to the City Performing Arts Center’s mission statement.

Citi Performing Arts Center is dedicated to providing broad-based, popular entertainment and arts education programming.  As a non-profit institution, it is committed to KEEPING LIFE COLORFUL for New England residents and visitors by inspiring a greater appreciation for the performing arts through educational outreach, public programming, and community partnerships.

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(Globe Staff Photo / Stan Grossfeld)

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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