Austin Independent School District Performing Arts Center opened in January 2015.
StubHub Foundation has actively supported youth education in the arts since shortly after its creation in 2011, and now they’ve partnered with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) Performing Arts Center (PAC), giving them a grant of $75,000 to underwrite the rollout of a new box office. AudienceView, a StubHub partner, will provide the PAC a full online box office solution, as well as pro bono services to help train staff and launch the service.
“Earlier this year, we set out on a mission for 2015 to put $1-million worth of musical instruments to struggling public schools across the country where music and arts programs are being cut on a daily basis,” said Alison Salcedo, head of U.S. Consumer PR for the StubHub Foundation, a corporate-advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. “By this point we’ve donated more than $99,000 in instrument value to schools in the Austin area.”
Through those donations, StubHub Foundation became connected with AISD. The conversation started with a tour during SXSW given by the center’s production manager, Cheles Rhynes, to Emma Leggat, head of StubHub U.S. Communications and CSR. During the tour the lack of a box office for the newly-built performing arts center came up, and the planning took off from there.
“Through our discussions with them, this beautiful organic conversation unfolded where we learned that we could use our core competency of ticketing and technology to help them put together a complete box office solution,” said Salcedo.
AISD PAC opened in January 2015 designed specifically to enhance the arts experience for students and teachers in the school district. A 1,200-seat main auditorium, a 250-seat black box theater and other dance and recording studios make up the facility, which is used for AISD fine arts programs and related committees as well as for other school competitions and performances. Rentals have also started picking up, bringing anything from body building competitions to Austin Classical Guitars events.
“This is a brand new performing arts center in a development that is quickly growing in Austin,” said Rhynes. “The school district is trying to revitalize urban education by giving the students the opportunity to be in a building like this. The facility is available to over 84,000 students, with 11 high schools and a number of middle schools in the district.”
Before the grant, AISD PAC had no existing box office system in place. Rental clients had to bring in their own systems, and the school district just told people to show up.
“There was no tracking patronage numbers,” said Rhynes. “We had no idea of the range of people, their backgrounds, social, economic, race, gender. We had nothing. People just showed up, because there was no system at all. So it’s not just that this improved the system, it helped to create one and put one in place, which is needed in performing arts centers.”
Part of the advantage of using AudienceView’s platform and technology will be the flexibility. They’ll be able to customize the platform to every unique event, while also taking advantage of the technology to track data and increase efficiency.
“Because this is a performing arts center built specifically for the school district, a lot of their events are either free or really low in price,” said Salcedo, “so what AudienceView is able to do is tailor whatever kind of creative ticketing solution they’re working on. Whether it’s assigned seating, general admission, free tickets or collecting data on their users, they now have really sophisticated tools at their fingertips. So yes, it’s benefiting the actual business here, but what it’s also doing is providing a more efficient process, which trickles down to the experience everyone has here, including the kids in the school district.”
Rhynes is also excited for the accountability it will bring to the performing arts center. With the data, they will be able to show the district actual numbers for events, accurately illustrating the center’s impact in the community.
“People need to see qualifiers and how many people come through the doors,” said Rhynes. “And this, if nothing else, will allow us to capture those numbers and report that back to the school district board and the community to say, this is what the difference we’re making in the community.”
The box office will be fully integrated into the PAC’s website, allowing patrons to pay online for tickets and print them at home, something the school district has never used before. It also improves their website, giving them a more impactful online presence.
“What is so beautiful about this place is it’s not only about music,” said Salcedo. “It’s dance, theater, anything in that umbrella of fine arts, and that’s something we are increasingly committed to and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Since 2012, the StubHub Foundation has donated more than $1 million to arts related causes through their Next Stage Social Good Music Program. By partnering with Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, they are able to identify schools that are in need, leaving a positive effect on music education across the country.
“For us, it’s mostly about finding those schools that are most in need,” said Salcedo. “This goes back to our core foundation of really investing in tomorrow’s artists, musicians and athletes, whatever it may be. It fits squarely within our foundation and our mission. This partnership with the performing arts center isn’t necessarily in that same box, but it’s in line with how we look at funding and giving and was a perfectly seamless for us.”
Interviewed for this story: Alison Salcedo, (310) 947-2648; Cheles Rhynes, (512) 414-4761