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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UApresents celebrates end of budget concerns

    UApresents has recovered from their last year’s deficit of nearly $1 million to generate a net income of $99,000 at the close of this season.

    Faced with the very likely possibility of shutting down last year, President Robert Shelton approved a $1.2 million loan to the organization, which it is working on paying back, said Natalie Bohnet, UApresents executive director.

    Bohnet, who also served as the finance director for 12 years, said that in the past, UApresents relied heavily on its Broadway shows, which often yielded very little attendance and profit. The two-week run of “”Hairspray”” in 2004 was in direct competition with the Broadway series shows, costing the organization $250,000.

    To help fix the problem, Bohnet said that UApresents, which sold out seven shows in Centennial Hall last year, no longer hosts risky Broadway shows and have passed the million-dollar mark in ticket sales, 16 percent ahead of where figures were last year.

    While that’s great news for the organization, Bohnet said, ticket sales still cover only 65

    percent of the cost of putting on shows. The rest of the money must be made though fundraising and donations.

    Joel Valdez, UA senior vice president for business affairs, said that Shelton has approved more renovations for UApresents, including a new sound system that will be installed in October. He will soon ask the Arizona Board of Regents for approval on other renovation projects, like rescaling the floor and adding new seats and bathrooms.

    Everyone at UApresents is aware of the UA’s generous cooperation, and the organization doesn’t take the support lightly, Bohnet said.

    “”The UA’s support has enabled us to stabilize the organization, but we do need the help of the community and we thank them very much,”” she said.

    Economics aside, Bohnet said the loan helped boost the overall morale and perception of

    UApresents.

    “”It showed the community that the university wants to keep UApresents going,”” Bohnet said. “”The community felt more inclined to believe in us (and) to donate, attend events. The psychological impact on people was very positive.””

    Elyse Tussey, a theatre arts education senior and UApresents employee, said many employees were surprised the organization received the funding.

    “”We all thought that it was a long shot,”” Tussey said. “”I’m definitely happy about it, and more students should take advantage of the fact that we are here and still standing.””

    Students currently receive discounts, with some tickets being offered for $10 a show, which Bohnet credits to the 46 percent increase in student attendance over the past year.

    Many shows out of the 42 scheduled next season should appeal to students, she added. In September, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart will perform with the world music drummers of his Grammy Award-winning recording Planet Drum. Other shows with wide appeal, such as David Sedaris and Rosanne Cash, can be found at the UApresents Web site, http://www.uapresents.org.

    Bohnet said she encourages all students and faculty to take advantage of the revamped arts program, which she thinks helps make UA one of the top American universities.

    “”We are on a good track,”” she said. “”We plan to be very careful and make Tucson proud.””

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