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District to address poor OAC attendance

Oct. 20, 2010

Oconomowoc Area Schools — District officials will sharpen their pencils and talk strategy after reviewing disappointing ticket sales at the Oconomowoc Arts Center.

The School Board reviewed a first-quarter financial report that detailed the results of community performances that failed to meet initial projections.

"Total ticket sales versus budgeted amount is about 33 percent," said Board Treasurer Dave Guckenberger, of the six shows staged at the 755-seat OAC.

Budget assumptions for the first quarter called for 2,000 tickets to be purchased, far ahead of the actual 666 tickets that were sold, resulting in a $35,000 shortfall.

District officials said they will use a three-pronged approach to remedy the situation.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Barry said they will make the necessary reductions in the OAC budget to make up for the revenue shortfall.

"We can fix the first quarter," he said.

In addition, the district will re-evaluate the business terms of each performance contract and investigate employing opt-out clauses and shared-risk approaches.

"The key issue here is it's not an expense issue, the issue is there were six productions with six revenue assumptions and the tickets simply did not sell at the quantities anticipated. The real issue there is programming and sales," explained Barry.

Superintendent Dr. Pat Neudecker said the district will also form an advisory committee to help in program selections.

"Obviously we have shows that are not interesting to the public," Board Member Mike Bickler said.

Neudecker said it takes time to understand what your community will support.

"What we are learning from the shows that draw the largest audiences, 80 percent of them come from outside of Oconomowoc," she said.

The Superintendent said they may also re-evaluate scheduling shows in the summer. A three-production summer series attracted a total of just 353 theater goers, with paid attendance under 25 at two of those shows.

Theater manager Michael Duncan explained in an OAC publication that it can take between 10-15 years to establish solid backing, a timeline board members balked at.

"I want to make sure we steer this ship in a different direction as soon as possible," Bickler said.

Neudecker agreed.

"It's not a public school district's role and responsibility to provide an arts program for a community at the expense of a school district budget. We are all on the same page there," she told board members.

Neudecker said the community supported the construction of an auditorium addition through referendum and then additional community fundraising upgraded the plan to a state-of-the-art facility with an eye toward community programming.

"We know we have to run that on a balanced budget and we know we aren't there yet," Neudecker said.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Spring Seedling Sale & Greenhouse Open House: 10 a.m. May 23, NuGenesis Farm, N68 W33208 County Road K, Oconomowoc. A variety of organic veggie and herb seedlings to plant in your home or community garden this spring will be for sale. All plant sale profits will benefit the Giving Garden initiative.

Memorial Honor Celebration: 8 a.m. May 23, Wisconsin Harley-Davidson, 1280 Blue Ribbon Drive, Oconomowoc. Daylong event begins with reveille and breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by color guard and the national anthem. The event also includes military and veterans organizations, interactive displays and vehicles, food and beverages and entertainment. Evening showing of “Honor Flight: One Last Mission.” on a big, outdoor screen.

"Small Space Container Gardens" Seminar: 11 a.m. May 23, Ebert’s Greenhouse Village, W1795 Fox Road, Ixonia. Free educational seminar by gardening expert Melinda Myers. Melinda, who will also be available to answer gardening questions. Enter to win a $500 Ebert’s shopping spree with Melinda.

Tyke Hike: 10 a.m. May 23, Lapham Peak State Park, W329 N846, Delafield. Children and their families will hike with a guide and a representative of the Delafield Library will share books, songs and a craft to enhance the experience. Meet at the Lapham Peak Tower. State park sticker is required.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

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