Report offers ideas for the Opera’s strategic plan | News, Sports, Jobs
The process of updating the 1891 Fredonia Opera House Performing Arts Center’s strategic plan will benefit from the research and recommendations that students at the State University of New York at Fredonia Business Administration have compiled for their main project.
A team of five seniors produced a comprehensive report that assesses how the community currently perceives the performing arts center and suggests ways to better meet the artistic needs of the community, explained Carol Loja, who graduated in business administration: management in May. The revised strategic plan will guide opera for the next five years.
Almost 200 respondents from the university as well as Fredonia and Dunkirk – most of them over the age of 56 – took part in an email survey that was the basis of the report that the team of students, dubbed Clarity Creations, presented to Rick Davis, the opera house executive director. It also included input from a smaller focus group of community members who had attended opera events but were not members.
“We will review the team’s report and recommendations at an upcoming staff meeting and explore how we can use their findings and ideas.” Mr. Davis said.
The students began their project by meeting Davis, who provided them with historical and political information and also gave them a tour of the entire facility.
In their research, the students identified the need to focus on ways to attract a new generation of young customers. “We discovered that 29.5% of those surveyed were not aware of the many different programs offered at the opera”, added Ms. Loja, who served as the team’s project manager.
“We found that in terms of films, a lot of people were very interested in new releases, documentaries, dramas and opera performances,” Said Loja. There was also a strong interest expressed in getting the comedians to stand on the opera stage.
Respondents suggested that the opera house develop alliances with local restaurants and wineries, perhaps tying menu discounts to the purchase of tickets to opera events.
“We are particularly intrigued by the idea of collaborating with other local organizations and businesses, especially since we all come out affected by COVID”, said Davis, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance at Fredonia. “We could find mutual benefits in forming alliances.”
Students were surprised by the residents’ zeal for the opera house, which was largely closed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, to reopen as quickly as possible, and many in the community, have added Loja, are already anticipating a return of events this fall.
Loja reported that the opera was delighted to receive the report. “They’re currently planning a five-year strategic plan and will be using a lot of our findings to help them achieve their next goals, which is really good because we know the work we’ve done goes beyond that. just the presentation we made, “ Loja explained.
Preparing the 23-page report allowed Loja and his classmates Adil Kadwa, Devin Wiencek, Ryan Piniewski and Alexis Witkowski to use the tools they had learned in class. “It’s very different to have real data coming from real people, rather than a textbook scenario,” Said Loja.
The students also learned to pivot, if necessary, if part of a plan does not come to fruition. There were concerns that an insufficient number of people could be recruited to be part of the focus group, but participants were found late in the process.
“It was a big part of the project”, Loja said of the focus group participation, “Fortunately, it worked.”
Developing the strategic plan for a non-profit organization was particularly applicable to Loja, who plans to attend college to pursue a master’s degree in arts administration. Loja also has a minor in Arts Administration from Fredonia.
School of Business Associate Professor Sue McNamara developed the cornerstone with the aim of providing “real life” opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in the business program. “The win / win comes when students learn and our community organizations receive creative recommendations based on student data,” Dr McNamara said. Each semester, 10 to 12 projects are discussed.
This spring, DFT Communications, the Northern Chautauqua County Foundation, the Fredonia School of Business, Cottage by Pucci and the Center for Excellence were clients of other student teams in the synthesis course. Another section of students has prepared a special project to help the university’s strategic planning steering committee collect student feedback on the brand, culture, and student experience.
Local community organizations or campus units interested in being part of the synthesis process are requested to contact McNamara by email at [email protected]