Diana Martinez is energized about the future of the renovated McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
The director is now booking the 2014-2015 season, the first full season back in the MAC since it reopened this year after a 16-month renovation.
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Improvements to the Belushi Performance Hall, Playhouse Theater and Studio Theater, as well as the addition of the outdoor Patio Stage, are providing new opportunities, and Martinez is excited about the possibilities.
"We hit the ground running when I started last fall," the Glen Ellyn resident said. "The focus was on moving back into the MAC, promoting and planning for the remainder of this season. We were still unpacking when we presented our first show after the renovation, the New Year's Eve concert with the New Philharmonic.
"The good news is the audience returned to us immediately. We've sold out five shows at the MAC so far this year: the New Year's Eve concert, Keb' Mo', Kurt Elling, Jim Belushi and the upcoming David Sedaris show. This means the audience was ready to come back, and now we're going to make their experience even better."
For example, Martinez has hired Tom Murray as supervisor of patron services, a new position. Murray's many duties will include creating a stronger preshow experience, taking advantage of the enlarged MAC lobby space and the addition of a full-service bar.
Martinez also would like to develop a strong group of volunteer ambassadors to help during shows and events. As for the touring season lineup, Martinez wants to add shows that will appeal to the greater community and the college's student body.
"By keeping in place the programming that our community clearly enjoys, we can build on it with shows that appeal to a broader audience, such as music or comedy shows that are more accessible to students," she said.
"I also would like to bring in some big headliners every year. They will attract new audiences to the MAC and create additional excitement around our season lineups."
This summer, the MAC will begin offering programs at the new outdoor Patio Stage. Martinez said programming will evolve in this space as the MAC will try a variety of different shows to see what audiences respond to best.
She also wants to take advantage of the MAC's proximity to the college's Culinary & Hospitality Center, home to Waterleaf restaurant and the Inn at Water's Edge. Other initiatives include a new MAC website and a free summer concert or movie series.
Martinez, who grew up in Glen Ellyn, is still surprised by the number of people she meets who don't know about the McAninch Arts Center. One of her big goals is to increase awareness.
"We provide a unique experience for our community. They can enjoy dinner at a fine dining restaurant, a show, an exhibit at the new Cleve Carney Art Gallery in the MAC, and even stay overnight -- all within 20 minutes of their homes," she said.
"Everything that has been done with the McAninch Arts Center up to this point has positioned us well for the future. I want to entertain, engage and inspire the community so they continue taking pride in this tremendous facility."
For more about the McAninch Arts Center, visit atthemac.org.