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Post-renovation, Northrop may have limited programming

An underfunded fees request will affect some programming.
Inside of Northrop Auditorium, which is currently under construction.
Image by Bridget Bennett
Inside of Northrop Auditorium, which is currently under construction.


A large crane now sits where the stage used to be inside Northrop Auditorium.

There are no seats, and construction materials litter its four floors.

“Every time I come in here it’s a little different,” said Gary Summerville, a consultant for the Northrop renovation.

The reopening of the historic auditorium is scheduled for April 2014, but Northrop may experience programming cuts due to an underfunded student services fees request.

Northrop requested $500,000 from the Student Services Fees Committee but was offered only about $150,000 in the committee’s final recommendations, which may result in fewer subsidies for student programming.

The renovated auditorium, which costs about $100 million and was paid in part with Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funds from the state and private donations, will provide more public space, including rehearsal, meeting and performance spaces for students.

Northrop officials hoped to use fees funding to subsidize rent of these spaces for low-cost student use beginning immediately next spring, said Northrop director Christine Tschida.

The renovations were designed to encourage more student use of the auditorium.

“The idea is to have it really active and open all the time,” Tschida said.

But the fees committee didn’t provide funding to subsidize use of the spaces in 2013-14.

Discussion of funding “focused on the unlikelihood of students needing a full 40 hours per week in the summer,” the committee said in its final rationales.

It will be expensive for students to rent the spaces without subsidies, said Rah Riley, a member of the Northrop Student Advisory Committee.

The group will push for the space subsidies in future fees requests.

Northrop leaders also hoped to offer many free and subsidized event tickets for students, Tschida said.

 The committee decided not to fund this request for 2013-14 because events are held off-campus during renovations, according to its rationale.

During renovations, Northrop events have been held at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis and the O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

“We still wanted to have the University of Minnesota students to be able to come for free,” Tschida said.

However, $10 student rush tickets will continue to be available during the 2013-14 season, and Tschida said they plan to ask for free and subsidized ticket funding in 2014-15 when the auditorium will be open all season.

Some student intern positions and a full-time student engagement coordinator position were also not funded in the final recommendations.

Tschida said Northrop hoped to pay more interns.

“We know how hard the interns work, and we want to pay them well,” she said.

The fees committee liked Northrop’s ideas overall, Riley said, but didn’t offer complete funding because it will only be open for two months during the next school year.

“There are only so many fees to allocate,” Riley said.

The fees committee did provide funding for some expanded programming, like Northrop’s involvement with Spring Jam. In its fees request, Northrop said it would offer its space and production crew to Spring Jam headlining artists for free.

Northrop will also use part of its student services fees to expand the Summer Music Festival into the spring and fall.

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