Program offers free McCain tickets to honors students

Minh Mac | Collegian Todd Holmberg, executive director of McCain Auditorium, takes the group of honors students on a visual tour of the upcoming shows to be presented on at the theater this season.

On Tuesday, students in the University Honors Program were invited to an event at McCain Auditorium to eat, mingle and enjoy a short presentation previewing the McCain Performance Series, this season featuring acts performances from instrumentalists to off-Broadway musicals and marionettes.

Among the information covered at the brief event, called the Cultural Passport party, honors students were given details about a program allowing them access to free tickets to any and all McCain Performance series events.

“This program seeks to support top-performing students (including honors students) at K-State by providing artistic and cultural experiences on campus — including the discovery of the performing arts,” Dr. Justin Kastner, interim director for the University Honors Program, said in an email.

The program was made possible by a $2,000 donation from Dr. Ed Null and Chris Null, two K-State alumni whose education and lives were enhanced by performance arts. The donation amount was matched both by the Friends of McCain organization and by the university, creating a pool of money that would allow for free tickets for honors students to attend events that they’re interested in.

“Exposure to the arts and performance is an enriching part of university life. This donation and the Cultural Passport Program increases student access to the arts and performance,” Kastner said.

Chris explained that the inspiration for the Cultural Passport Program came from a desire to support and enrich the educations of honors students as well as a life-long passion for the arts.

“We hope that honors students will find this not only enjoyable, but also a bit of a challenge,” Null said. “I hope that they will stretch themselves into experiences they wouldn’t have before.”

The benefits of attending more fine arts events for honors students lie beyond entertainment. The donors and founders of the Cultural Passport program foresee the program as enriching and educational for students as well.

“People who go to arts events tend to socialize more, and those who socialize more tend to be more well-rounded,” Todd Holmberg, executive director of McCain Auditorium, said.

Honors students who attended the event were given a voucher, which they will be able to exchange for a free ticket to any McCain show of their choosing. They’ll then be given additional vouchers until the program runs out of funds to do so. Students at the Cultural Passport party were excited about the opportunity.

“I think this program is a good way for honors students to expand their cultural knowledge,” Joshua Mathes, freshman in mechanical engineering, said. “I intend on using this program multiple times.”

After watching a preview video detailing McCain’s season, including everything from comedian Brian Regan to musicals such as West Side Story, and bonding over a trivia game and dinner, honors students stood on the McCain stage with programs circling the shows they planned to use their vouchers for.

“I absolutely will take advantage of these opportunities,” Stephen Phillips, freshman in secondary education, said. “Gotta get in on the free tickets!”

The donors are hopeful that honors students will stretch their boundaries and go see their first show, imagining that once they’ve experienced one, they’ll be more likely to enrich their education with more.

Chris said that if she could say anything to students, it would be “Go, go, go.”