When the new season starts Sept. 15 for the Paris Center of Fine Arts (PCOFA) it will also mark the introduction of the first season pass.
“Patrons have been asking for them for a couple of years,” said Lisa Tucker, PCOFA board member.
Offering season passes required the PCOFA to change software for administering ticket sales. The former package was for single ticket purchase only and had some other drawbacks.
Tucker said the new software program handles season passes, allows tickets buyers to select their seats using any personal device and can help the organization with fundraising efforts.
Something else the booking committee had to determine was how much to charge for a season pass since there is a difference in what the professional acts cost.
Tucker said the average booking fee for bringing an act to Paris is between $6,000 and $7,000. On top of that the PCOFA is responsible for hiring technicians needed for light and sound plus paying for the lodging and food for cast members. Rather than set a ticket price based on the act, it was decided to charge $25 per ticket and offer a discount price for senior citizens and military personnel.
“We have decided to heavily discount for children to $10 per ticket,” Tucker said, adding charging more might prevent some families from bringing children to shows. “The $25 is an increase, but it is the first increase we have had and with it we can cut the cost of children’s tickets.”
Having a set fee also allowed the committee to look at what was needed for a season pass that is still a reasonable return for the PCOFA while offering a significant savings to the patron making the purchase.
The 2019-2020 season pass will be sold in two phases. The Summer Blitz starts July 10 and continues through July 31 with season passes going for $100, which is a $65 savings from buying tickets individually for each show.
Season pass sales continue from Aug. 1 to Sept. 14 at $132, and that concludes the opportunity to buy a season pass. Starting Sept. 15 only single-show tickets are available.
Tucker said another benefit to purchasing a season pass is if a patron has a preferred seat location that seat becomes the patron’s for the entire season.
The season pass applies only to the professional acts booked by the PCOFA board. Passes are not good for Paris Community Theater productions or any of the various school performances that also take place in the theater. Tickets for those shows are purchased separately.
Finding professional shows is the responsibility of the oversight committee’s booking team, and the search starts at a big convention.
“Kristin (Chittick) goes annually to the Arts Midwest Convention where she has access to hundreds of performers and agents,” said Tucker.
Chittick, who is fine arts manager for the PCOFA, comes back to the committee with recommendations based on performances she sees at the convention. Other sources considered are acts the committee members have seen at other venues and suggestions by patrons.
“We talk about what we think will fly in Paris,” said Tucker. “We also look at the financial constraints. We can’t afford some of the performers.”
There is also the problem of scheduling because a wanted act may not be available at a time there is an opening at the theater. School plays and community theater productions must be factored into when the theater is available for PCOFA sponsored performances. Tucker said the committee wanted to have a country music act this year, but none were available in an affordable price range and at a time compatible in the overall schedule.
“I’m on the booking team, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said.