Tonawanda News


May 16, 2014

Riv's focus on membership

Tonawanda News — The Riviera Theatre and Performing Arts Center is expanding its membership offerings to draw more people to its base. 

Members will now receive three days of preferred seating for select events and options to buy tickets before they go on sale to the general public. They will also receive free movie passes to the Thursday Night Summer Film Series as well as passes to all Wurlitzer Pops Concerts. 

Gary Rouleau, theater director of development, said membership numbers have stagnated in recent years, just as theater officials continue expansion and update projects, such as new digitized projectors.

“We wanted to get people in the theater,” he said. “We haven’t updated our membership benefits in at least a few years. And that’s just the beginning. Each year we’re going to try new things.” 

Jim Pritchard, the theater’s interim director of operations, said in 2011 there were 307 members, though that number has dropped to approximately 100 members during each of the last several years. 

Pritchard said the reason for the slump is in part due to the organization’s focus on several landmark refurbishment and expansion projects, including the recent renovation of the marquee as well as expensive maintenance issues with the famed Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. 

“I don’t know that we’ve really tried to boost membership,” he said. “Organizationally we were focused on our shows and the expansion. Now we’re trying to get back to basics.” 

Pritchard said while much of its core membership has been largely interested in the preservation of the theater’s organ, attention has since grown to include the theater at large. 

“We’re not just reaching out to the slightly older organ crowd, but the entire Western New York community,” he said. 

Membership costs $49 for an individual, $99 for a family and $199 for a business package. Contributions collected through the membership fees are used for restoration of the theater and the organ. 

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