IUP to drop OnStage series
It’s curtains for OnStage Arts and
Entertainment, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s performance
The university announced Friday it is
discontinuing the series upon the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.
The season ends April 27 with the award-winning musical “Spring
After that, the series will be folded
into another IUP performance and exhibition series run by the
Lively Arts, the administrative and marketing umbrella for the
university’s more culturally sophisticated fare — art exhibits,
dance recitals, orchestral and ensemble performances and plays.
IUP Interim President Dr. David Werner
said the university’s financial problems are to blame.
"OnStage has been enjoyed by the
Indiana community for many years, and we have been proud to offer
this resource for our region. However, in all that we do, we must
maintain our focus on our academic mission, especially in these
very challenging budget times,” he said in a statement.
The announcement comes as Werner and his
administrative team conduct a comprehensive review of the
university’s operations, looking for things to cut, consolidate or
expand. Those decisions, Werner said, are being weighed against
the degree to which a given program supports the university’s
central purpose, giving the students a quality
OnStage this year offered 12 acts,
including country singer LeAnn Rimes, R&B group Boyz II Men,
the musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” comedian Lewis Black and a
performance by Dennis DeYoung, a founding member of the rock band
Dr. Ronald Lunardini, chairman of the
OnStage advisory committee and IUP professor emeritus, said the
series’ discontinuation leaves a tremendous hole in the
university’s cultural offerings and severs a connection to the
“I consider its loss tragic,” Lunardini
said. “I’m saddened that this very public programming that brings
the community to the university and extends relationships there
won’t be continued in the future.”
The program was popular among
Indiana-area residents because it gave them a chance to watch
nationally touring acts without having to drive elsewhere in the
region. But it arguably had a limited appeal among students, some
of whom had said OnStage’s offerings are geared to an older
audience. And from that arose a second criticism, that revenue from
student activity fees was being used to subsidize programming that
students weren’t very interested in.
The fee revenue is one of several
funding sources for OnStage. It also operates on donations, ticket
sales, sponsorships and a budget appropriation from the university.
The university contributed $124,000,
according to officials. In addition, the Student Cooperative
Association, which administers the student activity fees, gave
Werner said a portion of the
university’s annual OnStage appropriation will be transferred to
Lively Arts next year. The rest will be put to use elsewhere within
the university, he said. How much, though, has yet to be
determined, he said.
Also to be determined is where the
OnStage series’ three-man staff will end up. Though the plan is to
transfer an administrative assistant to the Lively Arts program,
the university is still trying to figure out where to place the
other two, including Frank DeStefano, IUP’s longtime arts and
entertainment director. DeStefano also is president of the State
College & University Professional Association, a union for
professional staff at the 14 state-owned universities.
He declined comment Friday.
Though OnStage is being discontinued,
IUP officials said they aren’t trying to shirk the university’s
role as the community’s cultural center.
“IUP has a long tradition of providing a
wide variety of touring visiting artists. This will not change,"
“The centering of university arts
programming within one area simply makes sense, both
programmatically and fiscally. While IUP is firmly committed to
serving as a resource for arts in our community, in order to meet
this goal, we must be as financially efficient as possible and must
seek to eliminate duplication of services."
That duplication, in theory, only is
going to expand with the opening of the Kovalchick Complex and its
4,000-seat arena. The arena’s third-party manager, Global
Spectrum, is nationally prominent in the venue management business
and has marketing leverage when it comes to booking commercial, pop
So as the argument goes, folding
OnStage into Lively Arts allows the university to concentrate on
finding more artistic touring performances that tie in better with
IUP’s fine arts curriculum, but still will entertain the
"What is most important to any potential
booking is that it is, first and foremost, something audiences will
enjoy and find entertaining and enriching," said Michael Hood, dean
of the College of Fine Arts.
According to Hank Knerr, Lively Arts
executive director, the group hopes to capture some of OnStage’s
donors, sponsors and patrons, not to mention some of its
appropriations, allowing it to expand its lineup to up to 12 shows
The types of performances will likely
differ from those OnStage offered — think musicals, contemporary
and classic dance and music recitals, jazz musicians and traveling
exhibits of international artists.
"In addition to well-known acts, our
audiences will be treated to a variety of performers that may offer
a new sound, a different style, an established classical standard,
a quirky flair or an exceptional world perspective," Hood
To help ensure that Lively Arts hits the
mark, the program plans to expand its advisory board, Knerr said,
to include members of the OnStage advisory board. The OnStage board
is made up of faculty, students and community members. It’s also
posting additional information on its website — "text-decoration: none;">www.iup.edu/livelyarts
"text-decoration: none;">www.iup.edu/livelyarts— and
asking for responses to two surveys.