Membership sales lag so far for West Central Concert Series
WILLMAR -- West Central Concert Series will mark its 51st season this year of bringing professional quality musical artists to the area. Revenue raised by the sale of membership tickets helps pay for the cost of the concerts.
WILLMAR - West Central Concert Series will mark its 51st season this year of bringing professional quality musical artists to the area. Revenue raised by the sale of membership tickets helps pay for the cost of the concerts.
However, the pace of membership sales is running behind for the 2015-2016 season and the lag has the Concert Series board concerned. Membership usually runs in the “500 neighborhood,’’ said board President Gary Lagerstedt.
“We are at about 335 as of mid-to-late-July, which is behind where we usually are. So we are making a push for more memberships,’’ he said.
Lagerstedt said the Concert Series is not in any danger, however.
“It’s a concern that we need more people in the seats. In the long run, if our low membership trend continues, then we’re probably going to have to reduce the number of concerts that we have or select (less costly) concerts,’’ he said.
“What we really need are more younger couples that would choose to become members and couples with children, and we try to select concerts that would be interesting to a wide range of age groups,’’ he said.
Lagerstedt said five concerts are again slated for the upcoming season.
“I think the focus we have is we like to do probably one classical concert a year and the other four a variety of genres of music,’’ he said.
All concerts are held at the Willmar Education and Arts Center auditorium and all begin at 7:30 p.m.
The first concert - the Piano Men starring Jim Witter at the piano - features songs of the 1970s by Elton John and Billy Joel.
The family-friendly group Alaska String Band Southeast Alaskan Odyssey will perform swing, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic and gospel Oct. 29.
The series’ classical artist, Bella Hristova of Pleven, Bulgaria, will perform on violin and piano Nov. 14.
The Wolak-Donnelly Duo of Kornel Wolak and Chris Donnelly will present a blend of classical and jazz on clarinet and piano Jan. 28. The six-man group The Jive Aces from Great Britain will round out the season with their jive and swing band sound April 18.
Lagerstedt said he often runs into people he knows from the Willmar area and asks them if they have heard of the Concert Series and if they are interested in attending five quality concerts a year. The response, he said, is they have not heard of it.
An individual membership is $60, which allows admittance to all five concerts - breaking down to a cost of $12 a concert. A student membership (K-12) is $10, or $2 a concert.
This will be the third season during which the Concert Series is selling same-night tickets at a cost of $20 each.
“We don’t sell too many same-night tickets, although we sold probably 20-25 tickets for The Nutcracker last year and that was the single largest same-night ticket sales. Typically we sell half a dozen, and every cent helps,’’ he said.
The Concert Series is also promoting sustaining memberships, in which an individual or company makes an additional contribution and the amount over and above the cost of the tickets can be used as a tax deductible donation.
Lagerstedt is hoping the series reaches its membership goal.
With the first concert three weeks away, people contemplating membership have until then, said Lagerstedt.
“And we will sell memberships at the first couple of concerts, so they can buy a season membership,’’ he said. “Instead of paying $20 for The Piano Men, they can pay $12.’’