IU Auditorium's Young Professionals for the Performing Arts
In April 2007, Indiana University Auditorium created Young Professionals for the Performing Arts (YPPA), a leadership group for arts lovers between the ages of 25 and 45. YPPA is a subset of Circle of Friends, the Auditorium's primary donor group. Its members are active professionals who make individual contributions in support of IU Auditorium.
For an annual fee of $100 per individual or $125 per family or partnership unit, YPPA members are invited to complimentary events that include "meet and greets" with performers from select Auditorium shows; the new season announcement annual event; pre-performance hospitality receptions with Circle of Friends members; and master classes conducted by artists for IU students. Members also receive special discounts and e-mail notices of last-minute ticket offers.
The impetus for the group came about four years ago, when Jayne Averitt, IU Auditorium's community and corporate relations manager, noticed a significant decline in individual contributions. She attributed the decrease to an aging donor demographic.
At a conference on audience development in 2005, Averitt learned about the importance of reaching out to young professionals, a segment of the public with the means to purchase tickets that also appreciates the family-friendly programs. At the time, IU Auditorium didn't have the staff or funding to begin a program targeted to young professionals.
That changed a couple of years later when Jenny Gibson -- a former employee of Averitt's then working in audience development in New York -- e-mailed asking about an internship position. Jayne answered with an emphatic "yes" and supported Gibson to start the project that would become YPPA.
Gibson returned to Bloomington and began to shape the group; her initial goal was to find 20 potential members to serve on a YPPA leadership committee. She began by looking at the Auditorium's patron list, where she found Mike and Lisa Mann and Katie and Travis Paulin, among others. She interviewed those on the list and asked if they could refer 20 or so of their friends.
"Everyone had their own core group -- the Manns, the Paulins, Doug Booher (director of IU Auditorium). Off of those referral lists alone, we had 50 members right off the bat," recalls Averitt. The group continues to grow through referrals.
The organization's focus is keeping YPPA members happy while adding interested new members. "We want everyone to know about YPPA and know that we are a community gathering place for anyone interested in the arts," said Averitt.
What began as an outreach to young professionals to help keep IU Auditorium alive and growing has become an organization dedicated to enriching the experience of its members.
"YPPA allows us to network, socialize and mingle with other young professionals in the community who have an appreciation for the arts and the IU Auditorium as a whole. There have been and are going to be some special events for YPPA members that are very exciting," said Mike Mann, marketing manager of the T.I.S. Group and a member of the YPPA leadership committee.
YPPA events include date nights, family nights, a YPPA Welcome Event and pre- and post-performance wine and cheese receptions. Members also have added ticket benefits such as advance ordering and special discounts. Averitt said she encourages members to bring guests to YPPA events so that they can have a complete IU Auditorium entertainment experience.
The group's leadership committee often meets and plans events, as well as opportunities for members to socialize. While some of these events include dinners or other activities in the Bloomington community, Mann says they would like most activities to take place at IU Auditorium, in connection with shows.
The next YPPA/Circle of Friends event is a pre-show reception before "Chimes of Christmas" on Dec. 10. For more information, contact Jayne Averitt at 812-855-0650 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about YPPA, see http://www.iuauditorium.com/new0809/young.html.