The McCain Performance Series is offering Kansas State students one free ticket per performance throughout the 2021-2022 school year until funding for the new program is exhausted.
Todd Holmberg, executive director of McCain Auditorium, said he thought of the idea to help students experience the performance series without financial stress.
“We wanted to remove any financial barrier to the students so we could have a greater impact in students’ lives,” Holmberg said.
In previous years, performance tickets were at a 50 percent discount for students. However, the policy had not changed in decades. As ticket prices increased periodically, Holmberg said students were at a financial disadvantage.
“Prices were going up, but our benefit to the student body was not keeping pace,” Holmberg said. “Even as the product got more expensive, we had not made any changes to raise our discount.”
Holmberg said he proposed the new program to the Student Governing Association’s Student Services Fees Committee to solve the increased costs while benefitting students. The committee approved the plan and set aside increased funds to support the program.
“We were allotted $25,000 for this year as a cap for free tickets,” Holmberg said. “This is a trial run, and we expect that the fund will be exhausted fairly quickly.”
Once the fund runs out, tickets will only be available at full price. Since the fund allocation was only for the free tickets, the budget is depleted once it reaches the $25,000 limit. As a result, Holmberg said there wouldn’t be any funds left for the traditional 50 percent discount on student tickets.
“I expect the fund to run out after the first show,” Holmberg said. “We have already sold a total of $17,920 worth of tickets to 152 students.”
K-State student IDs are required when obtaining a ticket from the McCain Ticket Services Office and when entering a show. Students can reserve tickets for any number of performances on the fall schedule.
Holmberg said students can go to every show if they please. However, it is first-come, first-serve.
The new program debuts with the series’ first performance, country artist Sara Evans, on Thursday, Sept. 16.
“She is a big star, so people will be excited,” Holmberg said. “She is a Midwest girl and has performed at KSU before, just never a part of the series.”
Besides Sara Evans, the performance series has five other shows on the schedule for the semester. Two performances are set for later this month, with the final three in December.
Holmberg said the spring semester features seven to eight performances, and those shows will be announced soon. Once tickets go on sale, students can reserve their free tickets.
The free ticket program is part of the Student Services Fee that students pay each semester. Max Harman, chair of the Student Services Fee Committee and senior in biochemistry, said part of those fees cover the ticket costs.
Harman said the fees are mandatory for all students and help fund campus student services, such as McCain Auditorium. Other student services, or entities, undergo a fee review every three years, at which directors can ask for an increase or propose changes to benefit the student body.
The committee reviewed McCain’s fee use this past year and listened to Holmberg’s new plan.
“We give out a certain amount of money based on a proposal, and the director will show us how they want to use that money for their organization,” Harman said.
Proposals are approved if they provide a benefit to students. The committee thought Holmberg’s proposal was a beneficial use of McCain’s allotted fees, Harman said.
“Folks have been emailing, asking questions about how to get tickets – which is great,” Harman said. “We are at the start of the semester, so it is good to hear that interest.”
Christian Mendez, junior in chemical engineering, said he wants a free ticket to the Canadian Brass Christmas performance. Mendez said he probably would not have considered attending the performance if tickets were still only 50 percent off.
“I really like Christmas music, and that would be fun to go to with a group of friends,” Mendez said. “Having to pay for college makes things like live shows a luxury that I enjoy but usually would not want to pay for.”
Holmberg said the fast-selling tickets help McCain reach its ultimate goal of enhancing the K-State experience for students by removing financial barriers.