HRE Establishes Sanders Theatre Fund
Student Performing Groups to Gain Easier Access Through $25,000 Allotment
The University this week created a $25,000 fund to help student groups defray the costs of performing in Sanders Theatre.
Harvard Real Estate (HRE) established the Sanders Support Fund to provide students with easier access to the much coveted but increasingly expensive performance space, said Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Jeremy R. Knowles yesterday.
"Grants from [the] fund will be awarded competitively, and will allow our most worthy student groups more ready access to the Theatre for their musical and other artistic performances," said Knowles in a prepared statement.
The fund's creation was praised yesterday by leaders of student performance groups, who said it would ease the burden both for Sanders regulars and for groups which have not been able to afford the space in recent years.
"Sanders is undoubtedly the best performance space for an a capella group, but it's also one of the most expensive," said Lillian E. Machi '94, president-designate of the Veritones. "It's a major financial endeavor to put on a jam in Sanders."
HRE, which oversees Harvard's non-academic buildings, took over management of Memorial Hall in 1987. In order to control escalating maintenance costs, HRE began emphasizing rental of the performance space to outside groups, which are able to pay more for the space.
When it assumed management of Sanders, HRE also began requiring groups to pay for several non-optional services, including security, box-office ticket sales, ushering and house management.
Although HRE President Kristen S. Demong said she could not provide a figure for the cost of these services, a performing group can run up a bill of more than "a couple thousand dollars," said Jason L. Meil '92, business manager for the Din and Tonics.
Demong said that the new fund, which was created from an HRE surplus, is meant to alleviate the increased financial strain on student groups.
"It's getting to be more and more of a pressure point," she said.
Darshak M. Sanghavi '92, executive producer of CityStep, said he was happy about this "short-term solution" to the general shortage of student performance space at Harvard.
"It's an amazing amount of money," Sanghavi said. "I think it shows a more active approach to providing space for students."
Student groups which are currently unable to afford Sanders were also pleasantly surprised by news of the fund.
Edwin M. Outwater '93, music director of the Bach Society Orchestra, said the prospect of playing in Sanders is "exciting." Outwater said his group stopped performing in Sanders and moved to smaller Paine Hall when costs increased a few years ago.
"It's definitely something we'd be interested in," Outwater said of the fund.
Jessica L. McBee '92, former president of the Mozart Society Orchestra, said her group could also use assistance from the new fund in moving from Paine to Sanders as a regular performance site.
"Costs [at Sanders] are prohibitive. Within the next year or two we'd be interested [in the fund]," McBee said.
Demong said she would like to see the fund increased yearly to offset any rent increases.
Though students have been critical of HRE for increasing Sanders performance costs, Demong said her organization is trying to help student groups use the space.
"One of the reasons that we have outside performers is to subsidize students," Demong said. "We've always wanted to do it, we've just never had the funds.
"We're delighted to be a partner in this," she added.