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CEDAR RAPIDS — CSPS is seeking a private operator to take over Carlo, the second-floor bar next to the theater at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids’ New Bohemia District.
Taylor Bergen, named executive director of the arts not-for-profit in June, said the decision to lease the space to a third-party operator is an effort to streamline operations at CSPS.
CSPS’s mission includes building community by presenting and supporting arts, music and theater, he said, and devoting resources to operating a bar is not necessarily conducive to that.
“We're relying on someone with that expertise and knowledge to provide an enhancement to the general public when they participate in the activities that we are an expert in,” he said.
Carlo, a 1,350-square-foot space with 10 dining tables and a 24-foot bar, is operated by CSPS staff and volunteers and only serves patrons during performances and events at CSPS Hall.
Under new operation, the space would be open to the public during the art gallery hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
A request-for-proposals for the space put the rental rate at $750 a month and 12 percent of gross monthly revenue.
F. John Herbert, co-founder of CSPS — then called Legion Arts — left the executive director position in 2019 amid financial struggles, and Bergen came on as interim director, later being named to the position permanently.
Bergen secured funding to resolve more than $100,000 in debts the not-for-profit owed, and he said this move isn’t directly related to those financial issues.
He said he’s unsure if the partnership will make CSPS more money in the short run, but it will allow the organization to focus primarily on bringing artists and arts to the venue.
“I’m hedging my bets a little bit in saying that in the long run this will benefit us more financially because we’re more focused on the things that are mission-centric, and therefore can be better presenters and get more people to concerts and write more grants around the great work we're doing,” he said.
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