Profile of Programs & Services
This page describes in some detail the overall programs and services that Rockefeller Arts Center, as an administrative unit of State University of New York at Fredonia, privides to the campus and regional community.
RAC maintains the facility master calendar, scheduling 130-160 public events annually plus an estimated 800 rehearsals, set-up or maintenance “events.” Scheduling is done through a priority system involving four priority groups, with the academic arts departments comprising the first group. Rockefeller Arts Center and administrative use (such as admission open houses) are the second group. Student groups are next, followed by community organizations as the lowest priority who are able to rent the facilities on a space-available basis. RAC coordinates scheduled events with the campus master calendar through the computerized Event Management System (EMS). RAC additionally sees to it that all public events are shown on the public-facing online calendar called Localist (events.fredonia.edu)
RAC provides house management and ushering services for all public events in the facility. Included are greeting; ticket taking; coat check; concessions; playbill distribution; ushering and audience seating, rule enforcement (wearing masks, no photography, etc.); ADA and NYS Fire Code compliance and emergency response/evacuation when and as necessary.
RAC provides direct supervision of all lighting, sound, and other technical and equipment set-up needs of the events in King Concert Hall and Marvel and Bartlett Theatres. For events produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance, RAC signs out equipment only; as the department’s own faculty and students take care of their technical needs. For the School of Music, RAC provides basic supervisory personnel, and for its own presented and produced events as well as outside groups (rentals) RAC provides supervisors and student crews, with the costs billed back to the user.
The Fredonia Ticket Office is a separate business entity operating under the oversight of Rockefeller Arts Center. Prior to 2007, the Ticket Office was under the oversight of Campus Life. The change was made to modernize and professionalize the operation and increase the quality of services to college departments and the general public.
The ticket office provides ticketing and customer service not only for events in Rockefeller Arts Center’s four performance venues, but also for Rosch Recital Hall, activities in the Williams Center and other campus locations. The Ticket Office is also an authorized commission sales agent for regional and national bus companies, and serves as a charter bus agency for campus groups planning trips. The Ticket Office also sells tickets for term break charter busses serving downstate students.
RAC serves as building-wide liaison to the college maintenance and operations department and plays a significant role in scheduling and deployment of cleaners and custodians. The Rockefeller Arts Center technical director and his staff provide routine maintenance services for lighting equipment, dimmers and stage rigging. RAC also advocates for and helps coordinate building rehab, expansion and renovation projects.
RAC’s annual calendar of events (20-page full color season brochure) includes all performances and exhibits in the facility, as long as the information is received by the deadline, regardless of sponsor and at no charge. Major events in Rosch Recital Hall are also included. 11,000 copies are distributed at the beginning of each fall semester.
Combined Subscription Campaign:
RAC conducts a direct mail campaign, soliciting both renewals and new subscribers not only for its own series (On Stage For Youth, Kaleidoscope and Pops) but also for the Theatre Department's Mainstage Series and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra concerts and the annual Hillman Opera. This program went to the “Mix and Match” format in the 2009-10 season. This service has been suspended since summer of 2020 due to the pandemic. It is currently under cost/benefit evaluation and may not be reinstated.
Marketing and Publicity Services:
In addition to marketing and publicizing its own sponsored events, Rockefeller Arts Center provides publicity, advertising and marketing campaigns for all events that are part of the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance and the annual Hillman Opera. RAC also handles press releases for art gallery exhibits. RAC is the only unit on campus, other than the campus Marketing and Communications office and the Sports Information office, authorized to issue press releases directly to area media outlets.
Centralized Mailing List:
RAC maintains a 15,000-plus name interest-coded mailing list as part of an integrated ticketing-marketing-fund raising data base. Names, addresses and email addresses (when the customer is willing) are captured when patrons purchase tickets online, in person or over the phone. RAC provides highly targeted snail mail and email services at no charge to campus departments and organizations wishing to use subsets of the list for marketing purposes. For bulk snail mail promotions, each department is responsible for its own printing and postage costs. Names, addresses and email addresses (when the customer is willing) are captured when patrons purchase tickets online, in person or over the phone.
RAC solicits ads, typesets and coordinates production of playbills (printed programs) for Mainstage, Pops, Kaleidoscope, the Hillman Opera, and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra’s Classics concerts. There are 15 (+/-) issues annually with a total circulation of about 14,000. This provides the participating departments with professional looking event playbills that have room to contain program notes, synopsis of scenes, notices of coming events and bios of the principal performers
Financial support of other campus departments:
RAC makes annual financial awards from the Friends Annual Fund to the Department of Theatre and Dance, the School of Music and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra to support the Mainstage Series, the Hillman Opera and the Sunday Classics Concerts, respectively. An annual grant is also made to the Marion Art Gallery. Together, this support amounts to over $24,000 per year.
As the need arises, RAC conducts email survey of current and past patrons. Academic departments are given the opportunity to have questions included. Results are tabulated and analyzed by RAC and shared with the departments. Normal frequency every year to 18 months.
Individual Event Marketing:
Rockefeller Arts Center handles all of the marketing and public relations actives for its own presented events. In addition, RAC serves as the marketing and public relations service provider to the Department of Theatre and Dance and the annual Hillman Opera. The expansion of services to the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Opera occurred when the position of RAC Public Relations Assistant moved from 80% to full time in April of 2007. Each department is responsible for approving, administering and monitoring its own cash expenditures bases on consolation with RAC.
On Stage For Youth:
An annual series of performing arts field trip opportunities for area elementary schools featuring 12-14 performances by five to six professional touring companies and artists each season. For 2021-2022, the series was scaled back due to the lingering effects of the pandemic on public school participation.
Family entertainment series aimed at children ages 6-10 and their parents. Two to three events per year are presented each season in Marvel Theatre. This series is intended to complement the offerings of the academic arts departments which normally do not program to children or family audiences.
DFT Communications Pops:
Booked-in shows: Initiated by RAC in 1991-92, this is an annual series of three concerts of “lighter” musical fare. Types of music presented include jazz, big band, baby boomer nostalgia shows, Broadway show tunes, etc. Notable artists have included Dave Brubeck, Roger Williams, The Canadian Brass, The Moscow Boys Choir, and The Swingle Singers.
RAC-produced events: The season ends with a traditional commencement-eve concert featuring student singers backed by the Western New York Chamber Orchestra or The Fredonia Jazz Ensemble. These end-of-year pops concerts are produced by Rockefeller Arts Center in collaboration with invited faculty and staff members from the School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance. In the fall of 2012, 2014 and 2018 the same format was extrapolated to December for a “Big Band Christmas Spectacular” featuring dancers as well as singers. The 2012 edition was the first complete sell out in King Concert Hall, other than Yo-Yo Ma, in over 30 years.
RAC undertakes limited presenting outside of established series, sometimes with one or more co-sponsors, sometimes on its own. Military bands (co-sponsored with the Observer and the Post-Journal) and, on occasion, other special attractions are presented. RAC has partnered occasionally with the School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance for extended artist residencies utilizing Williams Visiting Professor Funds. These projects have included residencies by pianist Leon Bates and the dance companies of Paul Taylor, José Limon and Elisa Monte.
Friends of Rockefeller Arts Center:
RAC conducts the annual campaign for Friends of RAC, bringing in about $65,000 a year from nearly 500 donors. Income supports RAC programs and services as well as the Mainstage Series, the Annual Hillman Opera and the Wester New York Chamber Orchestra’s Classics Series and the gallery exhibition program.
Dallas K. Beal Community Access Fund
Rockefeller Arts Center is the designated manager of the earnings from this endowment held at the Fredonia College Foundation. Working in partnership with local non-profit agencies, the earnings are used to purchase tickets for area residents, especially children and families who could not otherwise afford the cost of admission. Tickets can be bought for any cultural event, not just those sponsored by Rockefeller Arts Center. RAC works with the development office staff to encourage additional gifts to the fund.
Endowments and Major Gifts:
The RAC director works with the College Development Office in prospect identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of gifts at the level of $5,000 and up; these gifts are generally designated for endowment purposes. In the last 25 years, RAC director has been instrumental in the creation of nine named endowments created to benefit arts programming in the center. The combined balances of these funds now stand at more than $405,000
RAC works with the college’s development office to coordinate solicitation of sponsorships not only for Arts Center programs but also for other programs including the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series. In 2007-08 this program was expanded to include three levels of sponsorship: season, series and individual event. Lake Shore Savings has been the season-wide sponsor since the inception of the multi-tier model.
The RAC director writes occasional grant applications to foundations and other sources in support of center programs and projects. Support has been received from the Margaret W. Wendt Foundation, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour and the US Small Business Administration. Grants are written for specific strategic opportunities and initiatives. The most recent award was $104,060 “Shuttered Venue Operators Grant” from the Small Business Administration. The amount was based on a percentage of decreased earned income due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was awarded to help Rockefeller Arts Center reopen with public events in the 2021-22 season.
Management and General:
RAC provides management oversight, general coordination and general record keeping including complete general ledger for all of the above operational areas, programs and services. Student Interns are used to staff the bookkeeping function using QuickBooks Online and the placement has been a valuable component of their out-of-class learning. Profit and Loss statements and balance sheets are generated periodically through the season and at the close of the fiscal year on June 30.
Relationship to the Arts Administration Program and out-of-class learning:
Rockefeller Arts Center serves as field placement opportunity for practicum and internship students in Fredonia’s Arts Administration minor. RAC and the Campus Ticket Office also employ up to 25 students per semester as house managers, assistant house managers, office assistants, ticket agents, bookkeepers and stage technicians. Students who benefit from these experiential learning opportunities (often while paid) have frequently gone on to paid work in their chosen field directly out of college. They frequently cite their opportunity to work at RAC and in the CTO as important components of their college experience.
Updated October 2021