Doudna avoids low enrollment effects

Samantha Middendorf, Entertainment Editor

The Doudna Fine Arts Center has not experienced a significant decrease in ticket sales for its 2014-2015 performance season despite an enrollment decrease.

Dan Crews, director of patron services at Doudna, said despite the lack of students, Doudna is not dealing with a decrease of interest in their performances.

“When you always have a lower population of students, you’re going to get the threat that there are fewer students that are going to come out because that pool is smaller,” he said. “However, so far, we’ve not experienced that.”

Eastern’s enrollment has decreased from 9,775 in the Fall 2013 semester to 8,913 this semester, which is a reduction of 862 students or nine percent.

Despite the fact that there is not a decrease in student participation, Crews said Doudna is always trying to increase student participation.

Doudna performances have seen an increase in student participation through classes requiring students to attend performances for class credit.

“We have a good amount of students who come to our performances whether it’s for their enjoyment or for class,” Crews said. “Some classes require students to see so many artistic things and sometimes theater classes might require students to see a particular production.”

Crews also said it is hard to tell if the enrollment decrease will manifest an impact on Doudna, because it is so early in the season.

Doudna works to draw audiences with traditional social media use and other creative outlets.

“We need to market strongly to the students,” Crews said.  “We use Facebook or Instagram or Twitter to get their attention, and we’ve also got a coupon in the campus coupon books for two for one tickets.”

A large amount of ticket sales also comes from the city of Charleston, and Doudna does not solely look to attract a student audience.

“We program a lot of things that we think general audiences will like whether they’re people from the community or students,” Crews said.

The most recent concert at Doudna has shown a large amount of popularity, resulting in a positive impact on ticket sales.

“Pokey LaFarge has taken a lot of community and regional interest,” Crews said.  “We’re taking a lot of phone calls from St. Louis, Bloomington and Indianapolis from people wanting to come to the event.”

Overall, Crews said the biggest influence the enrollment decrease has had on Doudna is the availability of students looking for jobs.

“When you have fewer students, you have fewer students who are involved in productions,” Crews said. “I have a smaller pool to chose from when I hire ushers or box office people, but the decrease in enrollment hasn’t affected Doudna much.”

 

Samantha Middendorf can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]