McCain Auditorium funds raised through special events, membership

A performer of the group Quixotic lets the differently-colored light flash and play off the sheets of her wings as she performs dance and acrobatics to beating music Friday evening at McCain Auditorium. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

K-State sponsors and supports many programs and organizations on campus, but some of these programs depend on their own private budgets. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum, the Kansas State University Gardens and McCain Auditorium are three of the most prominent entities on campus that are largely self-sustaining.

Karen Jones, accountant at the McCain Auditorium, said that the auditorium itself is included in the university’s annual budget to cover a portion of staff salaries and some operational expenses, but the performance series is not included in that budget. Those expenses are generated completely by Todd Holmberg, executive director of McCain and his staff.

“When it comes to the McCain Performance Series and its other community engagement programs much, if not all, the costs of securing the performances, advertising and other related costs are generated by Todd, his staff and support mechanisms like the Friends of McCain,” Melvin Chastain, former president of the Friends of McCain, said.

According to Chastain, funds are raised through special events, membership in the Friends of McCain organization, sponsorships and through “person-power,” which involves volunteers who serve as door greeters and hosts for audience appreciation events. The Friends of McCain program is an organization that specifically helps raise funds through several different support levels available to join.

These levels contribute money once per season, and donations start from $25 and go up to more than $10,000 according to Friends of McCain website. Chastain said the donations are for specific performances, community education and outreach and advertising. There are also board committees that help McCain’s performance series in different ways. These committees include audience development, hospitality and social events, special events and sponsorships.

“We try not to rely too heavily on one source of earned revenue,” Holmberg said. “The series is paid for by ticket revenues, Friends of McCain, corporate sponsorships, endowment income and the student government’s fine arts fee. If one facet should decline in any given year, other sources of income are there to close the financial gap.”

McCain does not rely on any singular source of income or donations. The Friends program is pivotal to the series, but Holmberg generates income through community outreach as well. This helps the auditorium prevent having an “off year” by always having the necessary funds filtering in from multiple locations.

The McCain committees work to provide opportunities to extend the theatrical experience past just the performance itself. “McCain Conversations” is one such opportunity that is often before performance series events where faculty, staff and experts from the community provide additional knowledge about the performance that is being viewed. “Club McCain” is an after performance opportunity that is at local restaurants where audience members can come and chat about what they have just seen.

“Consider the fact that those who enjoy the arts are much like those who enjoy sports, travel or any other pastime event,” Chastain said. “They enjoy doing it with friends, and they like to turn a single experience into an event.”

Every other year the Friends of McCain also put on a home tour that generates thousands of dollars. According to Jones, around 10 to 15 percent of the entire McCain budget is generated from contributions from Friends of McCain.