Insight USA Insight Palm Beach appoints a Cultural Concierge By Robert Silk / February 24, 2016 Share 1 The Wiz is performed at the Maltz Jupiter Theater. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County -- Arts and culture are big business in Florida’s Palm Beach area.So much so, in fact, that according to a study released Feb. 12 by the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, spending in 2015 by visitors at the county’s 19 largest cultural attractions was $311.8 million. Throw in an additional $226.5 million that visitors in town specifically to attend those events spent on things like hotels and restaurants, and the figure rises to $538.3 million.But with those 19 locales — among them the Kravis Center for Performing Arts, the Palm Beach Zoo and the Del Ray Beach Center for the Arts — making up just a fraction of the more than 200 cultural associations between Boca Raton and Jupiter, the many options can be dizzying to a visitor. Indeed, Palm Beach County plays hosts to 42,000 cultural events per year.However, Palm Beach-area tourists, and the agents who book their trips, need not be overwhelmed anymore thanks to the newly created Cultural Concierge program, which the Palm Beach cultural council says is the first of its kind in the world.The program, which launched in November, is the brainchild of Marilyn Bauer, the cultural council’s director of marketing and government affairs. During a previous career as a travel writer, Bauer often went on hosted fam trips, on which local experts showed her around.Cultural Council of Palm Beach County Director of Marketing Marilyn Bauer, standing, and Cultural Concierge Bama Lutes Deal. Photo Credit: The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County “We thought, ‘How can we give cultural tourists that top service, give them access just like travel writers got when they entered into a destination?’” she said.The answer the cultural council came up with was to hire an expert of its own, a cultural concierge, and to make that person available to provide personal touches to trip planners and tourists alike, free of charge.Serving as cultural concierge — the world’s first, according to the council — is Bama Lutes Deal, a musicologist and Palm Beach native who has more than 30 years experience in the arts.She serves as a facilitator for Palm Beach visitors interested in cultural experiences of all sorts. All they have to do is call or email, either before or during a trip, and Deal will provide an insider’s knowledge tailored to the needs of the client.Deal said she weighs all sorts of factors, including cost, geographic desirability and a client’s specific preferences before making suggestions. She can recommend classes, such as glass blowing. She can suggest little-publicized gallery receptions with artists. She can point a birdwatcher or photographer toward spots where they’ll see ibises roosting by the thousands. And on occasion, she can set up extra perks for clients, like a time Deal when she sent visitors to the Palm Beach Dramaworks playhouse.“I called the house manager, and when they arrived he welcomed them and helped seat them personally with an upgrade,” she said.Deal added that she even tries to keep in touch with clients during their stay to find out how they’ve enjoyed their events.Bauer said that in its research the Cultural Council of Palm Beach has found that the area’s cultural tourists tend to be baby boomers and empty nesters who have become more interested in collecting experiences than in collecting belongings.“What better way to collect experiences than working with a cultural concierge,” she said. “It’s cultural currency.”Travel agents and visitors can contact Deal during working hours via email at Concierge@PalmBeachCulture.com or by telephone at (561) 214-8082. Visit the Cultural Concierge Web page for more information.