Performance free for all

Delta College arts productions now no-cost under new policy aimed at reigniting interest, serving the broader San Joaquin County community

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Navaz Khan as Astrov (left) and Imri M. Tate as Marina (right) in Delta Drama’s production of Uncle Vanya during rehearsal on Feb 24 in the Al Muller Studio Theater. This scene opens the play. Photo by Vivienne Aguilar
Navaz Khan as Astrov (left) and Imri M. Tate as Marina (right) in Delta Drama’s production of Uncle Vanya during rehearsal on Feb 24 in the Al Muller Studio Theater. This scene opens the play. Photo by Vivienne Aguilar

Starting this semester, the Arts and Communication department of Delta College made the decision to make all drama and musical productions free to the public, first come first serve. The decision was discussed some time last year and was released to the public on Feb 20.

Delta’s “musical, instrumental, and vocal performances are ‘at a professional level,’” according to a Delta College news release.

Revenue earned in the box office will not be a loss to the arts since the monies were supplementary to the department’s general fund. 

This change is expected to have positive consequences for the community as well as the student performers.

“It doesn’t affect us. It makes it easier for students who have music appreciation classes to attend the concerts where they don’t have to pay,” said Professor and Band Director M.J. Wamhoff. 

Attendance at all performances is a requirement for music majors at Delta, but since they have always received free passes, nothing will change for them either.

The logic behind opening the doors to everyone settles on engaging the community. If members of the community are welcome, free of charge, and enjoy the performances then they might be more inclined to see more productions. A potential boost in audience members gives the student performers better experiences as artists.

Many people in the community have never been to live performances and theater attendance has dropped in previous decades, said Division Dean of Arts and Communication. Taking away the cost will hopefully spark interest once again.

“I hope that some people who have never been to the theater will come. For the general public it was $9 and with the fees and everything it would be $12! Now we’re competing with movies, and movies have popcorn,” said Drama Professor Ashlee Temple.

The drama department has the smallest audience capacity in the Alfred H. Muller Studio Theatre. This may become a problem when it comes to the first come, first serve policy. Fortunately, those in charge have already begun to establish a reservation system to combat the loss of tickets.

“One of the things that we’ll be doing is, every night there will be a reserve list for the next performance if you get there and it’s ‘sold out’ you know, there’s no more seats than you can sign up for a subsequent performance an be on a reservation list,” said Guptill.

The list of upcoming, free, performances can be found on Delta’s website at deltacollege.edu/student-life/delta-center-arts/drama-productions.