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Wedding receptions and birthday parties will have less access to the main lobby of The Commons. But people who wish to see the “Chaos I” mechanical sculpture will find fewer locked doors and temporary walls.
Those changes come with new rules adopted this week for the city-owned downtown building.
The rules, which will be revisited next month, affect only new bookings in the space, not existing contracts.
People booking wedding receptions also will have to pay a higher rate for space in The Commons. The change could mean a $125 to $500 increase in prices, depending on time of day and day of the week.
The venue has been a popular one, with only five Saturdays still open in all of 2014.
Mayor Kristen Brown has been pushing for more free public access to the Miller-Tangeman Lobby of The Commons, which houses Jean Tinguely’s mechanical sculpture. And while Brown provided more funds to cover the lost rental revenue in next year’s budget, she also has been urging The Commons Board to increase rental prices to raise revenue.
Brown said there were two recent incidents where she tried to show The Commons and Chaos I to important visitors and found the doors locked because of private rentals.
Jillian Keller, administrative assistant for The Commons who handles the bookings, said that birthday parties held in the lobby with Chaos are the worst for the staff and for public access. To host a birthday party in the lobby, the staff puts up a temporary wall that blocks the public view of Chaos I, even though the lobby remains partly open, she said. She said the work is not worth the $125 charged for most of those events.
Birthday parties still could use the playground area for free or book time in the upstairs performance hall, Keller said.
Keller also said that none of the weddings that have rented the space actually needed the lower lobby closed during the event, but the price difference of about $100 encouraged them to do so.
Paige Harden, a Commons Board member, cautioned that corporate clients likely would want to continue to close the lobby during their events upstairs to protect confidential information during presentations and to keep the facility quiet for events.
At its Wednesday meeting, the board agreed to:
Temporarily stop booking the first-floor lobby for all events.
Permanently stop renting the lobby for weddings.
Seek opinions from larger corporate renters of the public spaces and the holders of large, ticketed events on whether they needed the lobby closed for their events.
The board also agreed to formalize a two-tier pricing structure for events, with a lower price only for charities with a 501c(3) tax status or with a sponsor that has the status. Previously, the lower price was charged for any non-corporate event including weddings.
Karen Schrode, director of Columbus Area Arts Council, said some events that are not held by true 501c(3) charities but are overseen by the arts council would still get the lower rate.
The Commons Board voted Wednesday to limit the not-for-profit rental prices for various Commons spaces to organizations with the 501c(3) tax status. Previously, any non-corporate event received that price, including wedding receptions.
Non-prime time prices for Sunday to Thursday are:
Type of closing Nonprofit Others
Full closing $600 $750
Performance hall, upper lobby, patio $500 $600
Performance hall, upper lobby $400 $525
Patio $125 $150
Lower lobby $125 $150
All-day prices for Friday or Saturday:
Type of closing Nonprofit Others
Full closing $2,300 $2,800
Performance hall, upper lobby, patio $1,900 $2,400
Performance hall, upper lobby $1,600 $2,050
Patio $400 $480
Lower lobby $400 $480
Non-prime is from 7 to 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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