HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Live at Rose Lehrman (LARL) Performing Artist Series at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, will end March 2020 with the conclusion of the current season.
This decision will not affect the following:
All of these programs and initiatives will continue to be housed in the Rose Lehrman Arts Center on HACC’s Harrisburg Campus. In addition, the center will remain a hub for College events and activities hosted by outside organizations.
HACC’s operating budgets for 2018-19 and 2019-20 experienced deficits, prompting the College to undergo a reorganization that better aligns operations and matches declining enrollment trends. Canceling LARL will result in annual savings of approximately $221,000.
Two individuals currently in LARL support positions will have opportunities to continue employment at the College. The position of LARL director is vacant and will be eliminated.
“I want to emphasize HACC’s continued commitment to the arts, both at the College and in the community,” said HACC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D. “The decision to end Live at Rose Lehrman was not an easy one to make. However, it is among the many necessary steps the College is taking to be fiscally responsible.”
The decision to discontinue the LARL entertainment series after a 45-year run is based on several factors, including:
- Declining LARL attendance
- Declining LARL revenue and consistent financial losses to the College
- Increased competition and market saturation with other performing arts venues in the Harrisburg area that have emerged and grown over time
Declining Revenue, Financial Losses
From 2009 to 2019, total expenses to present LARL were $3,945,777.91, including labor and non-labor expenses. During the same period, LARL’s total revenue was $1,726,901.42, including ticket sales, facilities rentals, private gifts, HACC Foundation support and concession sales.
During that 10-year period, HACC contributed $2,218,876.49 out of its operating budget to offset LARL’s losses – for an average of $221,000 annually to maintain the series.
More recently, LARL’s 2018-19 operating costs were $354,865.70, with revenue of $103,054.10. HACC contributed $251,811.60 to maintain the series.
Despite presenting an array of professional performances ranging from dance companies, musicians, Broadway shows and appearances by notable entertainers, LARL ticket sales over the last eight years show a 70.8% decline in average attendance. Specifically, the number of tickets sold went from 4,120 in 2011-12 to 1,203 in 2018-19.
The average attendance per show in 2011-12 was approximately 343 people, with eight of the 12 events sold out. In comparison, the average attendance per show in 2018-19 was approximately 200 people, with none of the six events sold out.
Despite lower ticket prices for HACC students, their attendance also has dropped over the last eight years, from 37% of total attendance in 2011-12, or approximately 1,524 students, to 14% of total attendance in 2018-19, or approximately 168 students.
Also in 2018-19, the auditorium theatre was used seven times to accommodate LARL performances. The remaining 69 uses of the auditorium theatre included College events and rentals to 12 external organizations for 15 performances. Theatre rentals generated $25,581 during 2018-19.
Increased Competition, Market Saturation
When the Rose Lehrman Arts Center was completed and dedicated in April 1975, it was the first multidisciplinary arts center in the region. The center joined the Forum Auditorium and Hershey Theatre as a venue for professional performances.
The Live at Rose Lehrman Performing Artist Series opened the same season. The 379-seat auditorium theatre underwent a major renovation in 1989.
Since that time, cultural entertainment venues in the Harrisburg area have grown to include:
- Gamut® Theatre Group
- Mukund S. Kulkarni Theatre at Penn State Harrisburg
- Open Stage of Harrisburg
- Sunoco Performance Theatre at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
- Theatre Harrisburg
Rose Lehrman Arts Center Will Remain a Hub
The Rose Lehrman Arts Center is home to eight academic programs:
- Liberal Arts
- Music Audio and Recording Technology
- Music Business
HACC’s Graphic and Interactive Design and Photography programs are located in a nearby campus building.
Of the 10 aforementioned academic programs, the following are related to the arts:
- Graphic and Interactive Design
- Music Audio and Recording Technology
- Music Business
Currently, 36 sections of art, music and theatre are offered in the Rose Lehrman Arts Center with 511 seats filled; 34 of these sections were offered in spring 2019 with 420 seats filled; and 44 of these sections were offered in fall 2018 with 573 seats filled.
The Rose Lehrman Arts Center also houses student theatre activities, including HACC Theatre and Theatre for Young People, and honors exhibits for art and photography held each semester in the Rose Lehrman Art Gallery. In 2018-19, 10 student performances using the auditorium/theatre included “All in the Timing,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “New Works Festival” and “Spring Awakening” that drew an overall attendance of 957 people.
Student-related activities in 2018-19 in the Rose Lehrman Arts Center also included 23 events that drew an overall audience of 10,663 people, including Lunch ‘n’ Learn sessions, class performances, admissions and art activities for future students, theatre auditions, gallery walk-ins, theatre tours and theatre-related classes. The Rose Lehrman Arts Center also houses a glass lampworking studio for students interested in personal enrichment classes.
Additional use of the Rose Lehrman Arts Center in 2018-19 included 14 College events that drew a total attendance of another 3,314 people. These events included nurse pinning ceremonies, Police and Fire Academy graduations, Dental Hygiene Program events and collegewide symposiums.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. HACC offers approximately 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit hacc.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), follow us on Instagram (@HACC_edu), like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HACC64) and use #HACCNews.
About the HACC Foundation
The HACC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 1985 to raise private and corporate revenues in support of HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College. The HACC Foundation provides funding for student scholarships, innovative academic programs, state-of-the art training equipment and modernized facilities. To learn more about the HACC Foundation, please visit haccfoundation.org. To contribute to the HACC Foundation, please visit hacc.edu/GiveNow.