Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom - Act V: Cindy Burke
1899 - 1999
But that is precisely the point.
When Burke starts to recite figures about how revenue at the Casino has grown dramatically in the four years she has been working there, she isn't so much talking about economics as she is about the excitement of overseeing an ever-expanding family.
To help run a business - Burke is the assistant general manager of the Casino - that is not just 100 years old but is also busier and healthier than it has ever been, takes more than just a business-like approach to the matter.
Burke, and many others, repeatedly point out the music business, and the Casino in particular because it is such an established institution, is a "people business." To keep people coming back, the fans as well as the acts that play in the Ballroom, have to be treated with care and appreciation. They have to be treated like, well, family.
Cindy Burke, assistant general
manager of the Hampton Beach Casino.
[Photograph by Ralph Morang.]
The approach seems to be working. In the past three seasons revenues have increased a total of more than 40 percent: a nine percent increase in 1996; eight percent in 1997; and a 24 percent increase in revenues during the 1998 season. Her goal, says Burke, is to keep that upward curve at "five to ten percent a year from here on out. The Casino has played a big role here at the beach in the past, but we want to play a bigger role here in the future.
Her enthusiasm, she says, comes from what she is hearing from the people who attend the concerts at the Casino, as well as the people who play there. "We're hearing that this is the best the Casino has ever been," she says.
This is a long way from where Burke started out. She has a Master's degree in psychology and has worked in college admissions. But something was always pulling at her.
"I wanted to be in the music business," she points out.
With that firmly in mind, she gave herself one year to find a job in that industry and found one as group sales manager at the Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts, a 15,500 seat arena that has seen some of the biggest rock acts in history. With 200 shows booked each year, more than one million people walk through the turnstiles there.
She moved up quickly through the ranks at the Centrum and four years after joining the team, found herself promoted to Director of Marketing. She was living her dream. And then one day she received a call from Don Law Productions, the agency with which she worked at the Centrum, and she was asked if she wanted to help oversee the Casino in Hampton Beach. "It was a very flattering moment."
That was four years ago. Last year Burke helped put together and promote a season with more than 40 acts. This year it'll be another 40 or 50 acts, with newer ones on the scene, such as the band Fuel, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, a live boxing event on ESPN2, a professional wrestling date, as well as old favorites like George Carlin, who is set to play the night of July 15 - the date of the 100 year anniversary.
Things are going along pretty smoothly right now and Burke is more than happy that she made the transition from the Centrum to the smaller, more intimate Casino.
"I am so proud to be associated with it. We're getting better and better each year. It's a great place, with great acts," Burke says, "and it does Hampton Beach proud."