With the opening of the freshman production “Sarah, Plain and Tall” this past weekend, students might have been surprised to learn their tickets are no longer free. All drama and musical theater productions now cost students $3 to attend.
Jan Lauderdale, the director for drama productions, said the price increase is directly attributed to the move from Jones Recital Hall to the Berry Performing Arts Center.
Historically, students have not always received free tickets. Three years ago, Student Development decided to set aside $6,000 of its budget to make tickets free for students, under the condition it would only pay for a student to see the show one time.
“Students could go to athletic games for free, but not plays,” said Steve Beers, director of student development.
Beers said he wanted to make that experience free for students as well.
A year later, the Berry Performing Arts Center opened, and seating for productions went from 157 to 486. Tripling the audience automatically increased the royalty fees from publishing companies, which determine the costs based on the number of seats in the
“In addition to that, the expectation was that we would be able to put on bigger and better productions,” Lauderdale said.
Including more students on the the toward costumes and setups.
On top of that, Lauderdale said the drama and musical theater departments were striving to put on shows that appealed to University students. As a result, more students are coming.
Last year alone, the departments put on two of the most popular shows in University history: “Into the Woods” and “The Three Musketeers.”
“The Three Musketeers’ kind of blew us out of the water and we used up all of the budgeted amount student development gave us,” Lauderdale said. “We actually lost about $3,000 on ticket sales because we had to let JBU students in for free.”
Though productions are “bigger and better” with the move to the new building, the department budgets remained the same. Lauderdale said the money made from ticket sales was vital for keeping the programs alive.
“To lose $3,000 is just something we knew we wouldn’t be able to handle if it happened on a regular basis,” she said.
Both Lauderdale and student development believed $3 was a reasonable compromise. Non-university students pay $8 to $10 to see each show, senior citizens pay $10 to $12, and adults pay $12 to $14.
Senior Rebecca Ridings, who has both attended and participated in student productions, said the $3 was more than worth it.
“Nowhere else ever will you pay $3 to see the quality shows we have at JBU,” she said. “For $3 you can’t go get a coffee at Pour Jon’s, you can’t go see a movie at Siloam 6, and you can’t even pay for gas to go to Fayetteville.”
Others like junior Mikael Seamans think student attendance will suffer with the increase.
“I don’t think I will go to the play for that very reason,” he said. “I am crunching for cash, and when I have it, I don’t want to waste my time at JBU… Yes, students would rather go to a free sporting event rather than spend their Taco Bell or laundry money on a play.”
Lauderdale said her goal is for students to still come see the show as a vital part of education.
“We all wanted to make it affordable for students to continue to come,” she said