The non-profit Harris Center is celebrating selling its one-millionth ticket.
Around 7:30 pm on December 9, Cindy Schreier bought two tickets to see Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries, which comes to the Harris Center on January 13. Those two tickets marked Ticket Number 1,000,000 and 1,000,001 to be sold through the Harris Center Ticket Office.
The Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College opened in February 2011 under the name Three Stages and hosted 130 events during its inaugural season. That year, the $50 million facility offered events of every stripe across its three different stages — music, dance, theater, lectures. Since then the Center has grown; in the current 2018-19 Season, the Center will host nearly 400 events and attract audiences of 150,000 attendees.
One million tickets — it’s a magical number, and it represents the number of tickets sold since the very first performance at the Harris Center in February, 2011. Fittingly, that first performance was A Chorus Line.
“Opening night feels like a lifetime ago,” muses Executive Director Dave Pier. “But it’s not a lifetime ago. It’s a million tickets ago.” As you may have guessed, Mathematical Mysteries is a show about math; Cindy Schreier (SHRYer) and her husband are both scientists. It’s fitting that people so good at numbers bought such a statistically significant ticket.
As thanks for her momentous purchase, Cindy received 10 complimentary tickets to attend any of the Harris Center’s spring presentations – which includes eight national tours of Broadway shows, as well as a plethora of major dance, music and other events.
“One million” is a number that certainly stands out, but there are other equally impressive numbers when it comes to the Harris Center. Since opening, it has been home to over 2,900 events, featuring artists from over 50 countries, generating over $37 million in ticket sales. Last season alone sales topped $5.4 million, the highest to date, and the 2018-19 season is on track to be higher still. Another figure: as of November 15, 2018, over 1,740 volunteers have donated a total of 254,560 hours in support of Center operations — that’s around 35,000 hours a year.
In general, the Harris Center prides itself on being a beehive of activity, building community through performances. There’s a vibrant presenting program that brings touring artists from around the world to perform and share. That program, by itself, brought 200 events to the Center by the 2013-14 season. Add a growing list of partner organizations with whom the Harris Center works to mount events — active community groups like the Folsom Lake Community Concert Association, Folsom Lake Symphony, Placer Pops Chorale, Sacramento Guitar Society, and commercial promoters like SBL Entertainment and Carrera Productions — as well as the many Folsom Lake College performing groups in dance, theatre and music that use the Center, and it’s apparent that the Harris Center has become a cozy home for the arts on the foothill side of the Sacramento Valley.
Yet the impact of such a vibrant regional arts center is not only cultural but economic as well, for the Center is a vibrant business. “The arts provide jobs, and the arts have a real ripple effect across the local economy,” notes Pier. “Since the opening of the Harris Center in 2011, the Harris Center and its audiences have generated $10 million annually in related spending — that’s over $74 million since 2011. Hundreds of full-time equivalent jobs have been created, and local and state revenues generated by the Center and its audiences have been over $7.5 million.” These figures are based on economic modeling by Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy and research organization, which bases its estimates on studies of venues and audiences like those of the Harris Center. “The Harris Center is a cultural and economic force in the community that wasn’t here eight years ago,” says Pier.
Dave Pier notes that “the Harris Center has nestled into the community quite comfortably, becoming part of the fabric of everyday life. It’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t always here, even though we’re still less than a decade old. Our future is quite bright.”
Listen the interview below with Executive Director Dave Pier with KFBK's Kitty O'Neal.