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Putting Our Audience First

Matthew VanBesien

By Matthew VanBesien

Hill Auditorium Audience Filling

Three years after Rutherford B. Hayes was made president of the United States following one of the most controversial presidential elections in our young nation’s history, the UMS Choral Union presented its first concert in 1879.

Nearly 40 years later, UMS, along with the rest of the world, faced a global influenza pandemic, which began during the final months of World War I and shut down “all places of assemblage, including auditoriums, churches, theaters, dance halls, and all places of amusement.” At that point in its history, UMS presented only a handful of concerts each season besides the annual May Festival, though the flu pandemic caused the postponement of Enrico Caruso’s only UMS appearance three days before it was scheduled.

In 2020 we face challenges again on both these fronts — a contentious presidential election that will no doubt be marked by divisiveness, and a disease that has impacted lives in our own community and beyond. This moment feels challenging, if not a bit existential. And yet, daily signs of hope and humanity abound, with the courage and commitment of so many in our own community helping us conjure a brighter tomorrow.

Through all of these challenges, UMS has been and fully commits itself to being a present and positive force within our community, providing purpose, perspective, and a sense of possibility and aspiration for all of us in these trying times.

By their very nature, the performing arts enable both faith and optimism, while demanding one’s embrace of the possible. UMS will continue to provide that anchor for our community, allowing for comfort, exploration, and sheer delight.

We appreciate your continued belief in UMS and cannot wait to welcome you back in the 2020/21 season. We also want to reassure you that we will always put the health and safety of our audiences and artists first and foremost, and will provide all flexibility and accommodation possible in the months ahead.

All of us here thank you for your continued support and belief in UMS, for joining us in the new season, and for supporting the arts throughout our community. We will embrace this new time, however it may unfold, with a renewed spirit of sharing, trust, and partnership with you, our audience.

Sincerely,

Matthew VanBesien
UMS President

 

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