Building a Season
Building an Outstanding Arts and Culture Series: A DIY Guide in 6 Easy Steps
So, you’ve been charged with putting together an Arts and Culture series. Good for you – and GREAT for your community!
What you’ll need:
- A venue or two – we recommend either something historic, intimate, and in the center of your
city’s arts district like The Trust Performing Arts Center. Or, for bigger crowds, a 1,200+ seat venue with a state-of-the art sound system and free on-site parking like The Good Shepherd Chapel on Lancaster Bible College’s main campus.
- An amazing team of production staff and volunteers
- A cadre of artists and artist managers who are brilliant at what they do and delightful to work with. I cannot overstate the importance of the latter. Over the course of the past nine years, we have had dozens of world-class artists. Several of them were such a pleasure to work with that our staff has asked to bring them back multiple times. So far, only one artist we’ve worked with is on our “never under any circumstances are we presenting them again” list. Don’t ask.
Now that you have all your tools, let’s get building! Here are your 6 easy steps:
You and your staff scour the college calendar for available dates (if you don’t have access to the college calendar, add that to the above list…you’re gonna need it). Avoid homecoming, Fall Break, Christmas Break, Spring Break, conferences, commencements, convocations, college concerts, college productions, and student recitals (so many student recitals). Now, quickly block out everything that is left until you finalize your season!
STEP 2 – choose your artists.
Here at LBC Arts and Culture, we use a few criteria for this that you might find helpful:
- how effective the artist’s performance will be in your venue(s). Some categories to keep in mind: acoustics, lighting and sound tech, stage size, sight-lines, loading dock door size (we have stories), available instruments, and available personnel. Ask to see the artist’s rider and tech rider BEFORE making an offer. Let your team comb through the artist’s rider, and give the tech rider to your Tech Director. If, by some miracle, no red flags have been raised, you can proceed. Sometimes you can negotiate items on the riders. If you really want an artist, but have uncovered some red flags, give it a try! As your mom used to say “The worst they can do is say ‘no’.”
- how the artist will benefit your institution. Because our series is under the auspices of a college, we try our very best to choose artists who have a reputation of generously working with students. We have a dynamic Music, Worship, and Performing Arts Department, so we primarily choose artists whose schedule and expertise allows them to enhance our educational offerings.
- how the artist contributes to your goals and mission. If you don’t have a mission, add that to the list above as well. Our mission is “…to honor God by encouraging excellence in the work of student and professional artists and by enriching our community through inspiring, challenging, and redemptive experiences.”
- how the artist’s reputation enhances your series’ reputation. We decided early on that we wanted The Trust to be Lancaster’s answer to Carnegie Hall – a desire that is reflected in the artists we invite.
- the cost-effectiveness of presenting the artist. Nearly a decade into this, I have discovered that there are some genres that just do not sell enough tickets in our community to warrant presenting them. There are some artists, however, who might not break even on their own, but can be balanced out by a more lucrative concert elsewhere in the season. Ultimately, we have a budget to keep, but sometimes it is worth taking a small financial loss for a big cultural gain.
STEP 3 – make your offers
If you like buying used cars, you’ll be great at this part! I’m kidding of course (just a little). As a performing artist myself (and a half-way decent human) I WANT to pay artists what they are worth. These people have worked countless hours and sacrificed more than you can imagine to reach their level of expertise. The artists we bring to The Trust and the Good Shepherd Chapel are among the best in the world. They have mantles full of Grammy and Tony Awards to prove it. However, we are a small market with relatively small venues at our disposal. Ultimately, it is the artist manager’s job to make sure their clients are getting paid what they deserve and it is my job to make sure we can financially sustain our series.
STEP 4 – sign the contracts and pay the money
Radio ads, billboards, smoke signals…whatever it takes! If you (yes, I mean YOU) don’t buy tickets, we don’t have a series. We’ve made it really easy for you – just click the link at the bottom of this post. We’re even launching a membership option this season. Think Netflix, but for live, in-person concerts and shows!
STEP 6 – Present the artists!
I promised you 6 steps, but this last one has a few steps of its own (secure hotel rooms and transportation, design the programs, print the programs, set up the venues, recruit the volunteers, get the piano tuned, buy snacks for the greenroom, do a venue safety-check, greet the artists, open the doors, run the box office, seat the audience, make the curtain speech, PRESENT THE ARTISTS, get the audience back in their seats after intermission, sell merchandise, settle up the merchandise income with the artist, make sure the artists get on their way safely, turn off the lights, lock up the building).
All that to say, building an outstanding Arts and Culture Series isn’t that easy, and you certainly cannot DIY it. But, at the end of the day, you will have something you can be proud of, and your community will thank you for it. Speaking of something to be proud of, we are so excited to reveal the 2022/23 season. From world-renowned singers to brand new “Tik-Tok famous” artists, we built a season that has something for everyone. Below you will find a few of the season’s highlights. Please visit our website for a full list of our upcoming events.
The Trust Performing Arts Center Season Launch
6-9 p.m. September 2 | The Trust Performing Arts Center (Lancaster City)
Join us Downtown for Lancaster’s First Friday when the galleries stay open late (including our own Square Halo Gallery) and the sidewalks are teaming with visitors. We will be presenting a concert at 7:00pm featuring performances from our upcoming season. Tickets for the concert are free, but we suggest you order yours ahead of time as there is limited seating!
Into the Woods
September 16-23 | Lancaster Bible College Good Shepherd Chapel
Join the Good Shepherd Players from the college’s Music, Worship, & Performing Arts Department as they present Stephen Sondheim’s musical theatre masterpiece, Into the Woods. The Tony-award winning show intertwines several Brothers Grimm fairytales, exploring the consequences of the characters’ desires and actions. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Eric Owens | Curtis on Tour and Singers from the Curtis Opera Theatre
7:30 p.m. October 27 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Great Hall
The Nina von Maltzahn Global Touring Initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music presents Metropolitan Opera Star, bass-baritone Eric Owens, is featured in this concert that will include fellow artists from Curtis On Tour as they perform a variety of masterpieces including Brahm’s Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes.
Pianist Daniel Ma | A Lancaster International Piano Festival Concert
3:00 p.m. October 30 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Great Hall
The Trust is proud to partner with LIPF to present prodigy Daniel Ma. This young artist won both the Gold Award and the Best Performance of Virtuoso Composition in his category of the 2021 World Piano Teacher Association China-North America International Piano Competition. He will be performing works by Beethoven and Chopin.
7:30 p.m. November 11 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Great Hall
Presenting the Texas-based a cappella quartet who gained fame during the height of the pandemic singing in stairwells on social media. According to Classicfm.com “it’s enough to take your breath away and send a shiver down your spine.” You won’t want to miss it!
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe
Saturdays, November 26 – December 17 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Black Box Theatre
The Reverie Actor’s Company presents a unique adaptation of C. S. Lewis’ beloved story in which all the roles are performed by two actors. This amazing 45-minute production was created by renowned Broadway actress Le Clanché du Rand and toured by the Lincoln Center. Join the Pevensie children in their fantastic journey through the wardrobe where they meet all of your favorite characters from Narnia. It’s the perfect family outing to prepare for the holiday season! A Lancaster holiday tradition for kids of all ages!
Repeat the Sounding Joy: LBC’s Christmas Concert
December 2 & 3 | Lancaster Bible College Good Shepherd Chapel
An annual college tradition, the 2022 Christmas Concert features several LBC ensembles in a performance that weaves together a wide variety of Advent and Christmas songs.
The Trust Dance Festival
January 24-29 | Lancaster Bible College Good Shepherd Chapel
Two weekends of dance kick off the new year, featuring Lancaster’s Emme Dance Collective, New York-based A-Y/ Dancers along with The Trust’s resident dance company, the Durang Dance Collective. The festival features performances and community masterclasses throughout the month.
Cellist Hai-Ye Ni and Pianist Xun Pan | A Lancaster International Piano Festival Concert
7:30 p.m. February 4 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Great Hall
The Trust is proud to partner with LIPF to present Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal cellist Hai-Ye Ni, praised by the Washington Post as being “soulfully expressive,” in concert with Steinway Artist, internationally recognized and awarded pianist, Xun Pan.
Little Women the Musical
February 17 – 25 | Lancaster Bible College Good Shepherd Chapel
Join the Good Shepherd Players from the college’s Music, Worship, & Performing Arts Department as they present the Broadway musical Little Women. This timeless, captivating story follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Outlining their passage from childhood to womanhood, this Civil- war period drama details personal discovery, heartache, hope, and everlasting love as they find their place in the world.
Beyond Ourselves Benefit Concert
2 p.m. February 26 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Great Hall
Beyond Ourselves is a collaborative chamber music project that supports and promotes the global work of Mennonite Central Committee. Led by Grammy-award winning clarinetist Doris Hall-Gulati, the group programs guest artists and a wide variety of music, from Baroque to Contemporary, including newly commissioned works.
7:30 p.m. April 22 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Great Hall
The Dalí Quartet is acclaimed for bringing Latin American repertoire to an equal standing alongside the Classical and Romantic canon. The acclaimed Philadelphia-based quartet will perform works by Villa-Lobos, Ramírez, and Tchaikovsky.
Gabriel Chamber Ensemble | A Lancaster International Piano Festival Concert
7:30 p.m. May 5 | The Trust Performing Arts Center Great Hall
The Trust is proud to partner with LIPF to present the Gabriel Chamber Ensemble. The group is comprised of Simon Maurer, violin; Dana Allaband, violin; Agnès Maurer, viola; Ai-Lin Hsieh, cello; and Xun Pan, piano. This regional all-star piano quintet will perform works by Schumann and Shostakovich.
Click HERE to see our full season and buy your tickets today!