Accessibility issues being addressed at all levels [UPDATED]Published 9:59am Thursday, January 24, 2013 Updated 12:03pm Thursday, January 24, 2013
“Beware of artists. They mix with all classes of society and are, therefore, most dangerous.” — Queen Victoria
Not only do artists mix with all classes but are for all classes. A Center for the Arts prides itself in being accessible.
There are many factors in bringing in artists to Fergus Falls which include quality, artist fee, time, lodging, meals, school schedules, other arts schedules and sports.
When we talk of accessibility there are many types. Whether it’s removing seats in our facility to better accommodate persons with mobility issues, which we have done, and includes the ability to bring in your own chair or stand by your chair if needed and not disturb others view.
We have nearly two dozen assistive listening devices that can be used for shows which enhance or boost the stage volume to the wearer. We have a new audio descriptive device which we are learning about that will help persons by describing what is happening on stage.
A Center for the Arts offers large print programs for those who need/like bigger print. We moved all the chairs in our facility from straight up to slightly leaning back to be more comfortable for patrons.
Twenty four booster chairs are available for youth and we are looking into adult boosters.
We have padded mats in the back of the theatre that can be thrown over a chair cushion for all performances boosting the thickness of the seat.
Tell us what we can do to make the concerts more accessible to you.
Cost can also be accessibility issues. We offer shows that run from free to $5 for students including college, to our highest price ticket last season at $18. But wait you say I paid $23 dollars to see a show their last year. Yes, but it was not ours.
Fergus Falls Center for the Arts is also a rental facility and a number of shows done at the Fergus Theatre are not done by A Center for the Arts.
A Center does over $300,000 dollars worth of business annually and spends the same. Grants are drying up and we must be more self-sustaining if we wish to continue.
This is an incredibly generous town. Accessibility again includes costs for us and you the patron. Artists should be paid for performing; there is always a question of how much. We offer free concerts in the park on Thursday evenings in the summer months. Please take advantage; they may not always be of the highest caliber, but that’s what we charge $18 to see at the Center.
The free concerts cost AC4TA between $3,000 and $5,000, the movies sponsored by our friends at Park Region/ Ottertail Telcom cost them more than $3,000 last summer.
We raised $1,800 in donations from concert goers. This past season we asked artists to perform for free, as much as I didn’t like this, it was not budgeted for and our other choice was to discontinue the concerts. We were able to come up with funds to offer a stipend to all our artists last year.
AC4TA is always looking for and putting on our list improvements we could do to make us more accessible. As soon as we raise the funds we are reconfiguring our lobby and adding more space for the patrons and that is just one on the list.
Thank you for your continued support.
Michael Burgraff is the director of A Center for the Arts in downtown Fergus Falls.