The Richmond Register

September 18, 2013

Aalberts tells EKU Center board of hiring needs, policy changes

By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — EKU Center for the Arts Executive Director Joel Aalberts wants to add three positions to add to the center’s staff.

Aalberts told the center’s community operations board Monday that hiring a front-of-house manager to oversee operations in the lobby before, during and after shows, keeping the staff and visitors organized was his first hiring priority

He also recommended hiring a full-time marketing director as well as a director specializing in educational opportunities for local schools and community outreach.

“Within communities there is a group of people that sort of have a firewall built up between them and the university,” Aalberts said.

“They don't feel like the university has anything to offer them. There’s another group of people who think that, if there's a performing arts center in town, it’s for people who are well-to-do and better educated. One of the best ways to counteract that is to provide better educational programs and bring the arts out into the community.”

He said bringing in classes of school children and giving them a positive, educational experience is a good way to bring the rest of their families to the center as well.

As for community outreach, Aalberts and members of the board said they would like to see the Black Box Theater used more often by groups within the community. Aalberts also said he and board member Jill Price will be meeting to create a rate sheet for groups renting the center’s facilities. Rates will be set for non-profit groups as well as others, he said.

Board chair Harry Moberly raised a concern about the center’s side door near the handicapped parking area. Soon after Aalberts became director this summer, he ordered all ancillary entrances closed. The building may now be entered for shows only through its front doors and those opening to the lower parking at the rear. This will funnel patrons into the grand lobby, keeping crowds better organized and creating a “sense of arrival,” he said.

However, Moberly said some patrons at the most recent show complained about having to walk from the handicapped lot to the front door.

Aalberts said the distance from the lot to the front of the building still complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the side door was never meant to be an entrance for the general public, rather for utility purposes. He also said the circular driveway in front of the facility allows patrons to drop off anyone who may have difficulty walking to the front door and then parking.

Seth Littrell can be reached at slittrell@richmondregister.com or 624-6623.