The Meredith College Theatre Department puts on a variety of shows throughout the year. All of these shows are put on with no cost for admission. Catherine Rodgers, a professor and the program coordinator in the Theatre Department, spoke with The Herald about why the department made this choice.
Rodgers explained that tickets have always been free for faculty, students and staff through complimentary tickets they could sign up for. The department decided to open it up to everyone since a large portion of their audience is usually from the Meredith community, and to avoid having to track all of the complimentary tickets. The program no longer has to buy physical tickets or box office software programs, which cuts down on costs.
Rodgers shared that Meredith’s administration has played a large role in the department’s ability to do this. “Theatre is an academic program, not a for-profit organization, and it is funded as such,” Rodgers said. “We do usually ask the audience to make a donation if they are able to do so since we don't want folks to think that the arts can exist without proper funding.”
Prior to the pandemic, Rodgers said that they made more money through box office donations than they had through ticket sales. When it comes to attendance at shows, Rodgers explained that the pandemic has made it “difficult to judge whether or not free tickets will drastically change [the] attendance at performances” because they have limited the number of non-Meredith attendees.
However, they are optimistic that their spring musical, A Grand Night for Singing, will be more open to the public. “Seating upstairs in Jones Auditorium allows for more audience members, even with six-feet social distancing,” Rodgers said, “so that should help increase our numbers quite a bit.”
In addition to donations, Rodgers explained that students can show their support for the program by taking theatre classes, auditioning for shows, working backstage for course credit or being involved with the Extra Theatre Company. “Students do not have to major or minor in theatre in order to participate,” Rodgers emphasized.
By Aminah Jenkins, Associate Editor