General Manager | ASM Global / Santander Arena & Santander Performing Arts Center
“The Great Reopening” of the live entertainment business following the COVID shutdown may not have gone as smoothly as most hoped, but there have been many bright spots — and not just the fact of being open again.
“Business is strong. Here in Reading, Pennsylvania, we just finished our best fiscal year in venue history,” said David Farrar, general manager of the 8,900-capacity Santander Arena and 1,774-seat Santander Performing Arts Center. “This coming fall schedule is busy and holds for 2023 are starting to fall into place. Our hockey tenant (the Reading Royals) business is up heading into the season opener on October 29th — hopeful sales continue to outperform last season.”
2022 continues to demonstrate that hard work can pay off, despite post-pandemic challenges such as supply chain issues, price increases across the board and still the occasional sick crew member or performer.
“The year was a grind on the staff, but we’re fortunate to have a great group of professionals here in Reading who see the big picture of what our events mean to our community,” said Farrar, whose duties include as primary booking contact for both venues, to go along with supervising staff in marketing, corporate sales, boxoffice, operations and finance. “We’re starting to see ticket buyers purchase closer to show dates, which can be a challenge for marketing departments,” he said, noting particularly high traffic in genres including rock, Latin and country, making it difficult to reach fans.
With major tours out in force and fans having no shortage of entertainment options to choose from, Farrar notes the need for being ahead of current trends and fan demand based on more than just historic ticket sales.
“We’re having success with K-Pop opening a new genre for the market,” Farrar said, noting other 2022 successes including sold-out shows with Slipknot, Papa Roach & Falling in Reverse, LOONA, Breaking Benjamin, Dreamcatcher, Zach Williams, Elevation Worship and Rauw Alejandro.
“We set record numbers for both venues in terms of tickets sold, gross sales, and venue profit,” said Farrar, who was named IEBA venue executive of the year in 2013.