Cox Capital Theatre receives a management makeover

Changes are coming to the Cox Capitol Theatre as Tim Obelgoner, the newly hired general manager, settles into his new role while juggling two major downtown music venues.
Obelgoner, who also manages the Hummingbird Bar and Taproom on Cherry Street, took the helm of the Cox Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, Aug. 15 after a late meeting of the theater’s board of directors named him the theater’s new manager.
“They [the board] have realized for some time that the theater was not reaching its full potential and wanted me to come down and help with some of that,” Obelgoner said.
Obelgoner became a viable choice for the board due to his success at the Hummingbird, which has a regular stream of locally and nationally known bands coming through.
As manager of both venues, Obelgoner is aiming to create a complementary but not dependent relationship between the establishments.
“We’re looking to doing some joint activities but both venues need to stand on their own,” Obelgoner said.
He added, “It’s very important for me to understand that the Bird is a bar and the Capitol is a historic entertainment venue.”
Obelgoner intends to pull in national acts who need a bigger venue than the Hummingbird.
The Cox Capitol Theatre can legally hold 380 people, but with a few changes to the traffic flow of the building and with the fire marshal’s permission the theater can hold upwards of 600 people, making it an ideal space for downtown acts.
Ruth Ashmore, the theater’s newly hired director of sales, has been put in charge of seeking out and booking “financially viable events” such as nationally known musicians.
The complete event schedule for the Cox Capitol Theatre has not yet been released, but the Dirty Guv’nahs are booked for a show at the theatre on Sept. 14.
Because some of the national bands who come through have successful side projects, Obelgoner hopes to be able to feature the side project at the smaller of the two venues, the Hummingbird, creating a complementary concert experience.
Patrons can view the show at the Hummingbird as an opening act before heading to the theater for the larger performance. Obelgoner calls it a “mini pub crawl.”
Speaking of pubs, another of the changes that Obelgoner has in the works is the revamping of the bar service at the Capitol.
“I’ve heard people say ‘You just can’t get a cold drink at the Cox,’” Obelgoner said, but he said he plans to change this.
Reorganization of the existing equipment and furniture in the concessions area are included in the plan to improve drink service for thirsty patrons.
The past two weeks for the new manager have entailed basic housework: merging staff, hiring new employees to join the existing Cox Capitol Theatre staff, and making sure the new management has business cards and proper lines of communication set up in their workplace.
Once the real work of finding and booking popular acts begins to bear fruit, however, Obelgoner is confident that the theater will become “financially self-supporting very quickly.”
“We’ve got to establish ourselves as a top entertainment destination,” Obelgoner said. “We’ve been very successful with that at the Bird and we’ve got to do the same here at the Cox, and very quickly.”
For further information regarding the Cox Capitol Theatre’s upcoming events, show times and ticket prices, visit www.coxcapitoltheatre.com.