The University of Arizona Opera Theater is preparing for its spring production of "The Magic Flut
UApresents has long relied on student volunteers, but the creation of Student Promoters represents an institutionalized effort to involve students in the marketing and promotion of the performing arts organization.
Austin Holt has met Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters, run surveys and helped manage thousands of contacts through his work at UApresents, the University of Arizona's professional performing arts organization.
Holt, a UA management information systems and operations management major, is a member of the recently formed Student Promoters, a group of UA students charged with helping to market and promote UApresents, the first student organization of its kind in the history of the organization.
"What I like the most is that the group is all students and that it is run very well through UApresents," said Holt, also a student in the UA Honors College. "It's very interesting to be able to go to the shows, help out and do really cool things you don't typically get to do just going to the events."
The idea to initiate and institutionalize the group within UApresents originally came two years ago during a conversation between Jo Alenson, the marketing director for UApresents, and Jody Liller, a recently retired Campus Recreation staff member.
“When I approached Jo about volunteering with UApresents, the project and timing could not have been better. I was thrilled," Liller said. “Through the program, I’m connected to campus, working with students – something that I really enjoy – and making a difference at UApresents.”
Alenson said the staff had been considering such a program for years.
"Thanks to Jody, we had the manager we needed to cultivate the program and get it off the ground. We’re so fortunate to have Jody on board," Alenson added. "It was really about getting one dedicated group of student advocates from different clubs, residence halls and other organizations who have a passion for what we do."
The Student Promoters team, a group of about 35 UA students, disseminate marketing materials and inform other University students about shows, whether at club events or in residence halls. Within the team is the three-member leadership committee that launched in September and has more direct involvement with the marketing team, aiding with initiatives and pitching projects.
"They are our street team," Alenson said. "You see them at every event, but this year we took it to another level and added leadership positions."
Team members help with social media sites for UApresents and assist with research on artists the organization is considering booking. The students also get complimentary tickets to UApresents shows and, at times, work directly at and attend receptions with the artists that UApresents brings to campus.
For example, Student Promoters had the opportunity to meet Ben Vereen and Yo-Yo Ma, hear Bonnie Raitt and her band warm up before taking the stage, and to greet and escort UA President Ann Weaver Hart and her guests to their seats in Centennial Hall.
And during the annual one-day campus-only sale this fall, Student Promoters helped set a new sales record for that event – more than $32,000 in UApresents tickets sold.
"We worked really hard on that," said Holt, also a member of the leadership team. "That was great."
Like Holt, Kailey Hart is a member of the leadership committee and said she has found that it is so important not only to promote UApresents shows through digital and print publications, but in face-to-face interactions.
It is in those interactions that misconceptions about what UApresents does can be addressed, Hart said.
"What students need to know is that not all shows are geared toward an older crowd," said Hart, a UA senior studying English and education. "There are many shows that are geared toward younger crowds."
Even before she became a member of the leadership committee, Hart said she was drawn to UApresents because of shows like "Wicked" and the "Blue Man Group."
Hart also said she has been especially encouraged that UApresents has, over the years, focused more on direct outreach to the student body.
"The fact that UApresents is on campus and offers student discounts is great," Hart said.
UApresents has, over the years, targeted younger theatergoers, and it continues to coordinate and host programming for children and families. The introduction of the Student Promoters and its leadership committee represents a more intentional and organized effort to reach out to the student populace.
"Student outreach has always been a priority for us, and we have been fortunate to have student interns and volunteers helping us, but until now we did not have a designated group we could call on," said Darsen Campbell, the marketing and publicity manager for UApresents.
Campbell noted that in initiating Student Promoters and its leadership committee, UApresents has been able to incorporate student voice and student choice in more of its planning and decision-making.
For Holt, that was another reason why he chose to join the organization. One of his priorities is to encourage the involvement of as many students as possible, especially those who are new to campus.
"You don't always hear about a lot of what is going on around campus, especially during your freshman and sophomore years," Holt said.
"A lot of times as a student you get so wrapped up in just school work or going to work or your social life. It's sometimes hard to balance things and you get that tunnel vision," Holt said. "But one of the great things about UApresents is not only that they have these shows, but they are often interesting, educational and get the community involved."