Pay as you're able at this performing arts center

Every year the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan Technological University hosts a variety of professional touring shows and events, everything from live music and theater productions to dance recitals and well-known speakers.

Notable performances at the U.P.'s largest performing arts venue over the years have included the likes of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Vienna Choir Boys, Bob Saget and Maya Angelou. 

And while the performances have been well attended, drawing thousands of people from the Keweenaw Peninsula and beyond, officials realized ticket costs might be unaffordable to some members of the community, preventing them from experiencing the joy of the performing arts.

So, this season, the Rozsa is extending an innovative ticketing structure, known as Pay As You're Able Ticketing, to remove financial barriers and promote greater accessibility to the performing arts. The initiative was tested last year with positive results.

The program allows guests to pay what they can afford for their tickets, enabling them to choose from various price options based on their circumstances.

"We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy a night out to see a great show, regardless of their financial situation," said Mary Jennings, director of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. "With feedback from our audience over the last year, we've designed Pay As You're Able with the goal that no one has to miss a show because they can't afford the ticket."

What’s happening: After successful testing and positive audience feedback last year, the Rozsa and other university-performing organizations are extending the Pay As You're Able Ticketing ticketing structure for the entire season. Guests are encouraged to contribute what they can afford. That may mean covering the full ticket fee and supporting part of someone else's ticket, paying some of the fee, or opting for the minimum price.

The Pay As You’re Able applies to Rozsa, Michigan Tech Music, and Michigan Tech Theatre events.

"We understand that financial situations can vary, and none of us fully comprehend
someone else's circumstances," said Jared Anderson, chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Michigan Tech. "Through Pay As You're Able Ticketing, we celebrate diversity and embrace the idea that art is for everyone."

How the program came to be: The ticketing program is an extension of an effort tested last year. The Rozsa offered a few Pay As You're Able events in the previous performance season so that officials could learn, plan, and get community feedback.

"We found out that our community loved the program, and we learned a few things along the way so that we could make it work better for our audience this year," Jennings said. 

The Rozsa and the Visual and Performing Arts Department are committed to creating an equitable and inclusive arts culture where everyone feels welcome, Jennings said. Making events financially accessible to all is an important part of that commitment, she said.

The Rozsa presents six to 10 professional touring performances each year, and the Visual and Performing Arts Department ensembles produce another 30 or so events. Last year there were 183 events total -- about one every other day. 

"Pay As You're Able is a step in the right direction for us. We also want for everyone to be able to determine what they can afford - if they're able to pay more and help cover someone else's ticket through the "Full Fee +," we hope that they will, and if they need to pay less so that they're able to come, we hope that they will," she said. 

What is Pay As You’re Able Ticketing: The program allows guests to pay what they can afford for their tickets, enabling them to choose from various pricing options based on their circumstances.

"It’s amazing the Rozsa Center is launching its ‘Pay As You’re Able’ program to make world-class cultural and entertainment opportunities accessible for all," said Brad Barnett, executive director of Visit Keweenaw. "It really demonstrates their leadership in making the arts more inclusive and continues to showcase their commitment to our community and visitors."

How does Pay As You're Able work: When guests visit the box office, they will find the regular ticket prices listed for the event. A member of the box office team will share the pricing tiers available, and guests can choose the level or levels that makes the most sense for them. Online, guests select the pricing tier they can afford when purchasing tickets. The Rozsa encourages guests to pay what they can to enjoy the same high-quality experience, regardless of the amount they can afford to pay.

"Pay As You're Able supports an accessible and welcoming environment in the Keweenaw," says Hannah Rundman, audience manager at the Rozsa. "When folks can determine the ticket price they can afford, there’s more opportunity for diverse audiences to share joyful experiences and feel a sense of belonging at the Rozsa and in the broader community."

What’s next: Tickets for the Rozsa Presenting Series of professional touring shows went on sale Tuesday. "Ticket sales are moving quickly. We have an exciting season this year, and we've heard from many community members that Pay As You're Able is making it possible for everyone to get tickets to the shows that they want to see," Jennings said.

Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 906-487-1906, or at the Rozsa Box Office. The Michigan Tech Art, Music, and Theatre series will be announced in the coming weeks, with tickets going on sale later this month.
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