ABAC to Partner with City of Tifton to Operate Tift Theatre

TIFTON—Performing arts students at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College will experience the bright lights of downtown Tifton after the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ABAC and the City of Tifton which stipulates that ABAC will take over operation of the Tift Theatre beginning July 1.

“I think this will be beneficial to both ABAC and the Tift Theatre,” Wayne Jones, Director of the ABAC Art Connection, said.  “Within the ABAC campus, we have a lot of capabilities.  The one job of a theater manager is now spread across a number of positions at ABAC.  These duties will actually be an expansion of what we do every day in terms of scheduling and promotion.”

According to the MOU, the City will continue to own the Tift while ABAC utilizes it as a “professional performing arts production and management laboratory experience for students in the theater program and student workers/interns.”

ABAC Vice President for Finance and Operations Paul Willis said the Tift will continue to be available for rent for various events.  Fees generated by these events will be split between the City and ABAC.  The City will continue to maintain the building.

“We’re excited about this new partnership with the City and look forward to working together to benefit our students and the community,” Willis said.

The MOU states that ABAC will receive an annual management fee which will help to cover the cost of a professional technical director who will address lighting/sound, production, and stage management for productions. This staff member will also supervise all technical assistants, students, and volunteers.

“Both the Tift and ABAC will gain from the expertise of this technical expert,” Jones said.  “This will be a full-time person who will be in charge of lighting and sound and might even help with set building.”

ABAC will be responsible for all administration, rental scheduling, contract management, artistic coordination of projects, box office services, technical services, promotion of the Tift, front-of-house services for events, and concessions operations for events.

The ABAC music program has held two events at the Tift Theatre in recent years including a “Star Wars” themed production by the ABAC Concert Band and the Christmas Concert from the choral program. Both events filled the venue completely.

“We can now explore the possibility of moving some other on-campus events from Howard Auditorium which seats 330 people to the Tift which seats over 600,” Jones said.  “I believe this agreement is a win-win situation for the College and the Theatre.”

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