Forbes Performing Arts Center Preparing for Future Seasons

By: McKinsey Harris Email
By: McKinsey Harris Email

The James Madison University Forbes Performing Arts Center is halfway through its first season, but it's already looking ahead to future seasons, wanting to continue raising the bar.

From Phil Vassar to the JMU brass band, the center has had a strong first season.

Dr. George Sparks, the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, says this center has found its niche.

"We're trying to be a hybrid center that serves community through its outreach to the professional performing arts and then engaging our students also with those professionals whenever we get a chance," says Sparks.

He says venues in Washington, D.C., Charlottesville and Richmond have professionals at an exceptionally high level, but they want patrons to not just connect with professional performers.

"But to connect with our student artists. People who are interested in the arts or who are interested in the future of the arts, and we are the future of the arts, and they can see the future of the arts here at the Forbes Center," says Sparks.

Regan Byrne, the executive director of the Forbes Center, says ticket sales have tripled in the new building. She says things like advertising and their new Website are helping.

"All of that combined I think has really worked to our advantage, and the community is starting to say, they know we're here now, so the next step is to really reinforce that message as we move forward with this semester and into next year," says Byrne.

Sparks says he thinks they've had a high level of professional performers this year and that'll continue into future seasons.

"I hope that next season is a lot more successful than our opening season and that we really just progress and serve our students and serve the community and serve the JMU community better all the time," says Byrne.

The Forbes Center presented information about its grand opening, which will take place in February, to the JMU Board of Visitors Friday afternoon.


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