A Well-Advised Advisory Council
The Advisory Council not only serves as NJPAC’s eyes and ears in the State’s many diverse communities, but its arms and legs as well. Being on the scene to share buzz about the Arts Center, serving as a volunteer or pushing ticket sales are all part of the get-up-and-go required of members.
The current council is composed of five subcommittees – Faith-Based, Pride (GLBTQ), Jazz, Latino and Corporate – and each has from 15 to 20 members. The subcommittees are steadfastly aligned with NJPAC’s Marketing and Communications Department to support their ticket-selling efforts and Group Sales. By sharing the feedback they receive from constituents, they also provide valuable advice and insight about cultural tastes to NJPAC’s programmers.
Created in 1997, the year of the Arts Center’s debut, the half-dozen original councils were organized by former Director of Sales and Promotion Pearl Wise-Crawley to draw various communities into the growing conversation about NJPAC.
The Faith-Based advisors are affiliated with many churches that have shown their loyalty to NJPAC through the years. Last season they sold more than 3,000 tickets on behalf of the Arts Center to such performances as gospel concerts and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
“We’re in Newark so having a strong African-American presence is very important, and of course the Latino council is equally as important because of our Portuguese, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cuban communities,” says Donna Walker-Kuhne, NJPAC’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “Having their counsel helps guide us from a programming perspective so that we’re being as sensitive and smart as possible.”
The Pride subcommittee recently held a cocktail reception at NJPAC for about 75 guests as the kick-off event for Newark Pride Week 2013. The Corporate group, encompassing companies throughout Greater Newark and many of their human resources directors, helps NJPAC by promoting shows to employees and arranging for portable remote box offices (RBOs) to sell tickets on-site.
The council’s newcomer is the Jazz Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Kay Lucas and renowned jazz fusion drummer Lenny White. Lucas, who has a background in marketing and media, also is a longtime jazz aficionado.
“We first hope to help NJPAC be recognized as a leader in jazz programming. We want to help fill up every possible seat for every single jazz show,” she says. “And, most importantly, we hope to develop some ground-breaking ideas that will help engage an even broader audience with the jazz genre, including young people and millennials.”
Those who serve on the council are entitled to ticket discounts and occasionally have an opportunity to meet and greet performers, but one of the most anticipated invitations is to mix with fellow representatives at the yearly, season-opening meeting. Held on Sept. 12 at NICO Kitchen + Bar, the cocktail-and-buffet gathering also gave members a chance to connect with NJPAC staff and senior management about the 2013-14 season.
“One of the things we really try to do is program as diversely as possible for as many different constituencies as we can,” President and CEO John Schreiber told guests. “Your work in your neighborhoods and communities, and among your friends, spreads the gospel about what is happening at the Arts Center. I know the council has a lot to do with our success.”
Walker-Kuhne says the council’s primary role is to foster community engagement and in turn enable NJPAC to reach new communities in an organic way. “An outcome of these relationships is that new friends will want to see what we produce on stage,” she notes. “Ultimately, community engagement is a vehicle that allows us to generate sales to important stakeholders.”
Sept. 17, 2013