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Harris Center Announces Managing Partner

VenueTech Management Group, Inc. to Oversee the Performing Art Center's Operations

March 30, 2022

VenueTech Management Group, Inc.

The Harris Center for the Arts, Folsom Lake College, and the Los Rios Community College District have selected VenueTech Management Group, Inc. to assume management of the Northern California-based performing arts center’s day-to-day operations and performance programming.

The visual and performing arts center was initially conceived as an on-campus facility to instruct, develop, and guide Folsom Lake College students to become actors, musicians, dancers, visual artists, and backstage technicians. The scope and size of the Center expanded significantly with a 2003 feasibility study which validated the need for a facility that could also serve as a regional arts center for the greater community.

The Center opened in February 2011 as "Three Stages at Folsom Lake College" and was renamed in August 2012 by the Los Rios Board of Trustees as the "Harris Center for the Arts," honoring Los Rios Chancellor Emeritus and patron of the arts, Brice Harris.

The Harris Center is known regionally for its robust programming of presenting artists from around the world, hosting performances from community partners, serving as home to the college’s visual and performing arts instructional programs, supporting youth arts education programs, and also providing facility rentals for local businesses and organizations. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center hosted over 400 events per year attended by over 150,000 patrons with a $10 million per year impact on the local economy, including support for local restaurants, hotels and lodging, and retail.

Like other live arts venues across the country, the pandemic forced the temporary closure of the Harris Center for the Arts in July 2020 to ensure the health and safety of the Center’s patrons, performers, volunteers, employees, and students. This provided the opportunity to evaluate the Center’s operations and business model and explore restructuring opportunities that would ensure the long-term sustainable success of the Center in the ever-evolving live entertainment industry while maintaining its standards of excellence.

To help with these conversations, Los Rios partnered with Management Consultants for the Arts (MCA) in developing a review and assessment of Harris Center operations. Engagement with all of the Center’s stakeholders, including partners, staff, volunteers, and donors was a critical component in the development of the MCA report and informed all recommendations. The report outlined a number of key areas for improvement for the future operations of the Harris Center, including changes to the operating model.

MCA recommended enlisting a management partner that would run all aspects of the operations of the Harris Center, including programming, while working closely with the college and district to ensure that they continue to meet academic and community needs. Los Rios subsequently launched a Request for Proposals to seek potential management partners who had expertise in running similar venues. Two finalists were identified and after meeting with the prospective operators, VenueTech Management Group, Inc. was selected.

“VenueTech brings decades of experience in the management of performing arts venues throughout California and has consistently demonstrated its ability to achieve both creative and financial success while supporting the needs of the diverse communities it serves,” said Whitney Yamamura, President of Folsom Lake College.

“The Harris Center for the Arts is part of the fabric of the regional arts community, and we are thrilled to partner with VenueTech to build on HCA’s incredible brand and success,” said Brian King, Chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District.

VenueTech will oversee the Harris Center’s theatre management, talent scheduling and booking, ticketing, marketing, staffing, concessions, and event production. The San Francisco-based company currently provides similar services for Downey Civic Theatre, San Ramon Performing Arts Center, Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, and the Heritage Theatre in Campbell.

“We look forward to honoring the legacy of the Harris Center’s first ten years of operations while building on the Center’s commitment to providing distinctive entertainment and cultural opportunities,” said Judy Barkett, Senior Vice President of VenueTech.

The college and district are working closely with VenueTech to transition the Harris Center to the new operating structure with upcoming shows to be announced shortly.