New hands on deck
Anyone within with the sphere of influence of this publication knows that a lot is happening at Proctors.
Those who work here, in fact, check the electronic calendar each morning to understand why there may be dozens of people waiting in the lobby when we arrive.
The already busy pace quickened when rumors of a pending liaison with Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre -– and the added responsibilities that came with it -- became a reality in January.
Then, in quick succession, came news of the debut of Tickets at Proctors. The decision by the City of Schenectady to locate a new Heritage Area Visitors Center within Proctors followed. City officials and other interested parties deemed Proctors to be the center of gravity in downtown Schenectady. Proctors, in fact, hosted 1,728 events last year attracting more than 600,000 people to the resurgent downtown area.
Adding to the mix, Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, accepted an invitation to address the 35th annual conference of the League of Historic American Theatres (LHAT) at Proctors this month. An anticipated 250 leaders from across the nation –- and a ream of guests -- will convene at Proctors between July 13 and July 16 as part of the LHAT initiative, "Creating the Future: New Technologies and Green Strategies for Historic Theatres."
In their letter of invitation to Landesman, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand extolled the virtues of downtown Schenectady’s jewel: "Proctors is widely recognized as a catalyst in the economic transformation of downtown Schenectady. In the last 10 years, over 3,500 new jobs have been created, and over $250 million has been invested in new building, renovation and infrastructure, including two new hotels, corporate offices, many more restaurants and bars, and a new six-screen cinema."
These events rolled out concurrently with the announcement of a Proctors-produced quiz show –- "MasterMinds" –- on public access TV via Proctors own Open Stage Media (OSM), which manages cable channels 16, 17 and 18 -– and the new season of Chess Under the Marquee in concert with the City Mission of Schenectady.
At the same time, work is underway to promote "XMALIA" for Art Night at Proctors (July 15). This extraordinary multimedia performance by C. Ryder Cooley features songs about extinct animals such as the Tasmanian Tiger, the Pyrenean Ibex the Xerces Butterfly as well as the Dodo brought back to life in an avant-garde cabaret-trapeze act.
And, it’s full steam ahead to promote the limited engagement of legendary Leslie Uggams in "Uptown/Downtown" at Capital Rep (July 19–31).
Even as we speak, "Mamma Mia!" (July 5 -10) is playing along with Broadway Camp with "Mamma Mia!" at Proctors (July 5 – 9) with Broadway actor/director Kevin McGuire, professional vocal coach Kelly Bird, and choreographer and master dance instructor Sara Weck-Keller even as we speak. An exuberant "West Side Story" (Aug. 16–21) awaits in the wings … as we continue efforts to showcase Proctors Bigger Better Best GIANT Screen Movies through the summer.
Three to the rescue
It would be hard to believe that anyone at Proctors is not working full-out to keep our collective eye on the prize of sustaining CEO Philip Morris’ vision that Proctors continue and expand its role as the gathering place in downtown Schenectady and retain its top-of-mind position as the region's premier arts and entertainment complex.
Sometimes, however, we do need a little help from our friends, old and new. That help arrived in the persons of three interns brought on board to experience the summer as never before. Emma Francis, Mark Lombardo and Jared Schadewald arrived in the nick of time to lend a hand and to learn about what “really” goes on behind the scenes at Proctors.
Originally from Wynantskill, Emma, 22, recently graduated from SUNY Oneonta. She heads to UBuffalo in the fall to a graduate degree before pursuing a career in arts management.
Twenty-one-year-old Mark, originally from Latham, attends SUNY Oneonta as a music industry major.
Jared hails from Scotia and will be 22 this month. He is a communications major at the College of Saint Rose and plans to pursue a career in advertising or television production.
Although they report to others –- Jessica Gelarden, education manager, and Sara Hill, marketing manager –- all three sit outside my door, sharing space and equipment as needed.
Often, I hear their whispered conversations, hesitant phone calls, and cautiously polite interactions –- and find myself smiling as they discuss tasks, share tactics and concur on how best to carry out their evolving plans or what to say when they call someone to research an issue.
At times, they are godsends to someone like me, challenged by evolving software updates. They are all excitement, eyes-wide-open, with no hint of entitlement or competition; clearly they are in the learning mode and just as eager to share what they know.
Their attitudes and savvy are as much a reflection of who they are personally as they are a paean to managers Gelarden and Hill, who carefully selected these temporary recruits from an array of eager applicants for a best fit with the Proctors team.
These noteworthy student interns are as much a part of the excitement at Proctors as the tumbling array of events awaiting attention –- and enthusiasm.
Stand by to hear about their experiences at Proctors as part of this blog this summer.
Thom O'Connor is a member of the Proctors marketing team.
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