by Shain Bergan
The Berger Performing Arts Center raised $6,000 from about 200 spectators at its benefit concert on April 16, bringing the center that much closer to keeping a piano in its halls, says Brandon Howell, manager of the performing arts center.
The money will go toward the $35,000 needed for the center to buy a piano to replace its 7 1/2-foot grand piano, which is being reclaimed by Yamaha and Hachenberg and Sons.
Loaned to the performing arts center, on the campus of the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind, the piano was originally offered as an artist-placement piano to further Yamaha's name and reputation with performers and spectators at the Berger Performing Arts Center, says Paul Calvin, general manager of the keyboard division of Yamaha.
Yamaha has taken and replaced two other pianos at the center over the last 13 years without charge—but if the center wants to keep a piano at its location, it must now come up with the discounted price of $35,000 to either buy the grand piano back or purchase a similar one. The center's current piano has a retail value of about $65,000, says Mark Hachenberg, owner of Hachenberg and Sons, the local distributor of the piano.
Although the money raised through the benefit concert is only a small fraction of what's needed, Howell says the concert has generated interest among the community and possible private donors.
The center will begin contacting potential donors and exploring additional avenues of revenue this week.
"It was successful," Howell says of the concert. "It really was our jumping-off point."
Howell says he received notice from Yamaha in January that the company would be reclaiming the performing arts center's piano and selling it, due to financial issues as a result of the national economy.
While Yamaha originally gave Berger officials until April to come up with the money for the piano, the company extended its deadline, then told Howell last week that it would not reclaim the piano until the center had raised the necessary funds.
While Yamaha's indefinite deadline extention takes a load of stress off, Howell says he is not sure how long it will take to raise the $35,000 needed.
"I would love to say it will be in one or two months, but it's hard to tell at this point," he says. "We want it to happen sooner rather than later."