Hult Center for the Performing Arts

Location: 1 Eugene Center Eugene, OR 97401

Phone: (541) 682-5087

The Hult, as it is known around Eugene, houses two seating-only theaters: the larger Silva Concert Hall (capacity 2455) and the smaller Soreng Theater (capacity 498).  The Hult opened in 1982 and today hosts more than 700 events and activities per year. The Soreng and Silver are home to performances by the Hult’s six resident companies: Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene Concert Choir, Eugene Opera, Eugene Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, and The Shedd Institute. Indeed, during the month of December 2012, 23 of the 27 total performances were courtesy of one of the resident companies. Eugene’s dance and classical music groups’ performances are the Hult’s bread and butter, but upcoming performances at the Silva and Soreng also include acts like comedian Robin Williams, Broadway musical Rock of Ages, and the Monterey Jazz Festival Tour. Artists such as Ray Charles and Clay Aiken have performed at the Hult, but the venue seems to have moved away from booking large musical acts such as these in recent years.

The Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Photo credit, Dennis Galloway

The Hult has the attention to beauty and design that one might expect of a large performing arts center that houses opera performances regularly. I took a tour of the facilities on October 31st, 2012 and was impressed with the luxurious interior of the Silva especially, which is designed to accommodate stage productions of a large scale. Both spaces have stages equipped for moving theatrical sets, in contrast to the other venues I’ve examined. Interactive, 360-degree views of the two theaters (as well as other parts of the venue) can be found here.

I spoke with Mark Loigman, former Facilities/Operations Manager of the Hult, on November 24th, 2012. I asked Loigman about the audience member’s experience at a concert at the Hult, and he said that for a patron, the show now starts long before the actual performance begins. He referred to it as a “whole cycle of experience,” which goes something like this: initial and subsequent marketing/pr contact made with potential patron, ticket purchasing, communication via email between venue and patron, parking at the event, social time spent in lobby pre-show, actual performance viewing, concessions during intermission, and finally, reviewing/reliving experience in social media outlets (tweets or facebook comments post-show). Loigman said that it’s no longer the “old style of just getting (patrons) in the door” in this economic climate, but that a venue must consider every factor of the patron’s experience to ensure repeat ticket sales. From a venue management perspective, he spoke about the importance of the Hult and other performing arts centers finding streams of ancillary income, such as concessions and merchandise. Loigman also talked about the importance of a larger venue having corporate sponsors to bring in extra revenue.

Loigman alluded to the argument against such a economic-driven perspective of the performing arts presenting field as one which advocates “keeping the art form pure, “ but noted that in the end, it does come down to ticket sales, at least in terms of a venue’s evaluation of the ultimate success of a concert. He said that the Hult does administer surveys that glean information regarding what made a patron decide to attend an event, but that it’s difficult to determine which marketing technique worked best as the internet has substantially increased the avenues of a marketing push. He mentioned that it’s very challenging to tell why people buy tickets because buying patterns are so unpredictable.


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