The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

The Buck Starts Here

In the real world, the entertainment business demands hard-earned cash in exchange for a much-needed break. But at the University, there is no need to carry cash for entertainment or a little comic relief.

Lurking under the surface of every full-time student's ID card is a world full of free entertainment: Arts Dollars.

But what are ARTS$ and where do they come from?

ARTS$ represent a possible $75 worth of University entertainment for every full-time University student who has paid the student activities fee, a mandatory fee sent home along with tuition. The $12 student activity fee yields 75 Arts Dollars; $60 in tickets to music and drama performances and $15 in tickets to Virginia Film Festival events. The ARTS$ program also includes membership at the University's Bayly Art Museum.

"Full-time students who have paid the fee receive, in cyber-space, $60. They can use the $60 in order to buy tickets to certain events sponsored by the Music and Drama Departments," General Manager of the Drama Department Martin Beekman said.

Drama Department Chair Bob Chapel had the idea for the ARTS$ program back in the early 90s. Beekman said that Chapel wanted "to find a way for the arts departments to receive a University subsidy, yet still make it seem that art has value."

Before the ARTS$ program, the departments had to "survive on box office revenue, a very difficult thing to do," Beekman said.

But with the ARTS$ program, students have the opportunity to see many cultural events with very little real cost, and the arts departments have guaranteed and substantial funding.

Students who are in the know about the ARTS$ program rave about its cultural possibilities.

"ARTS$ offer a different way to enjoy the arts and concerts," said fourth-year College student Meghan Van Horne, a box office representative for the Music Department who uses her ARTS$ for music events and season tickets for drama.

Upcoming ARTS$ Performances

Wind Ensemble
Friday, November 3
7:30 p.m. Old Cabell Hall Auditorium

Jazz Ensemble
Saturday, November 4
8:15 p.m. Old Cabell Hall Auditorium

Valentin Martchev - Bassoon
Sunday, November 5
3:30 p.m. Old Cabell Hall Auditorium

"Six Characters in Search of an Author"
Play by Luigi Pirandello
November 16-18
November 29-December 2
8 p.m. Culbreth Theatre

"ARTS$ encourage students to see the shows that they are not willing to pay cash for," fourth-year College student Al Paradis said as he helped customers to tickets at the Drama Department box office.

"Students who have never been to the theater before come [to a Culbreth show] for the first time and end up enjoying the experience," Paradis said.

But why haven't many students cashed in on the wealth of ARTS$ each full-time student possesses?

Flyers and brochures about ARTS$ and music and drama events abound, but students seem to let the information fly right by.

"It's a shame most students don't know how they work," said Van Horne. "More ads could be done about Arts Dollars."

But once students realize the existence of ARTS$, they are eager to reap the benefits.

"I think it's a great way to make easy access to culture. I will definitely use them ... all of them," first-year graduate student Brandi DeMont said.

Students are eager to learn about the variety of events that accept ARTS$. This year, students can use their ARTS$ to pay for everything from admission to Culbreth Theatre plays like Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Out Teeth" to Wind Ensemble Performances through the Music Department. This year's ARTS$ also could have been used to purchase admission to up to three films of the Virginia Film Festival or the chance to hear the tribute speaker Anthony Hopkins lecture.

Realizing the need for more publicity for ARTS$ and the associated events, both students and faculty are making efforts to make University students more aware of featured events, as well as the existence of ARTS$ in general.

Third-year college student Yvonne Kilborne, a member of the University Singers, has helped create her own publicity for the group by selling ARTS$ tickets on the Lawn.

"Some ARTS$ concerts don't get sales because there is not enough publicity," said Kilborne, lamenting the fact that even a large group like U. Singers, with 80 members, doesn't sell out. But after selling ARTS$ tickets on the Lawn, Kilborne said it really helped increase attendance.

"People were like, 'Oh, I can use ARTS$? Sure, I'll buy five tickets," Kilborne said, as the general student response to seeing events like the U. Singers concert for "free" is very positive.

The Drama Department also makes a big effort to advertise their plays, as well as the Film Festival as events where ARTS$ are welcome.

The department takes care to send individually addressed brochures to every student in the 22904 ZIP code, as well as occupant brochure mailings to areas of Charlottesville that are highly populated by students living off-Grounds.

But Beekman regrets the lack of student planning. The Drama Department deliberately advertises the week before performances because students are impulse buyers and wait until the last minute, unlike regular community members.

"See where the community is sitting and where the students are sitting, and you can see something about the buying patterns of play tickets," Beekman said of the fact students occupy the back seats of the auditorium at shows.

Information about ARTS$ sponsored programs is out there. But as the ARTS$ slogan goes, students must "Use it or lose it"