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PPAC is always looking for volunteers with any of our shows or programs! You can usher, help with reception, work concessions, help with costumes, hair, or makeup! Please send in a volunteer application to: 900 S. Jefferson Mexico, Missouri, 65265.

We will contact you with any jobs that are available!

Volunteer Application

Please read about our expectations when volunteering at reception!

The Art Center’s Front desk

Patrons often form their first impression of an organization in the Lobby/Reception area. Stained furniture, old magazines strewn about, rude front-office staff—such experiences have a huge impact on how patrons perceive the quality of the classes, programs, productions, teachers, staff, art, music and every aspect of the art community on campus says Lois Brace Executive Director of Presser Performing Arts Center in Mexico, Missouri.

Patrons comment on wait times and room ambience. They criticize teacher’s patience, audition selections, tuition and ticket prices, online fees, room temperatures and parking. What patrons tend to remember about a visit and share with others is what they understand, says Lois Brace. Patrons’ perception of their time in the reception area affects not only their opinion of the organization but also their entire ART experience, she notes.

‘How do you calm down anxious patrons? How do you keep the environment clean and infection at bay? Given that ED’s today have so little time to spend with each patron, what can be done in the reception area that will improve communication at the moment of patron interaction?’ ”

The messages conveyed by a Lobby/Reception area can be direct or subliminal. Everything from the arrangement of seating to the type and intensity of lighting has an impact on a person’s mood and well-being.

Welcome to the CENTER!

We put a lot of thought into the reception area. “It is insulting for people to make an appointment to wait,” says Mrs. Brace.

We chose to have a small reception space with just two chairs so she and the Administrator would only have two people on the schedule at one time “We are forced to be on time,” she says. “We do not have enough chairs for patrons to stack up.”

It should go without saying that any reception area ought to be welcoming and comfortable. We chose to have a mobile Reception Desk, so our area could change. “We will have so many events in different parts of the facility, that we need to welcome people while directing the flow of traffic, so we designed a mobile circular desk that breaks apart and is multi-functional.”

“When patrons walk in, they should be greeted warmly,” Brace says. Someone from reception should see whether anyone needs special assistance, whether in filling out forms or directions to the restroom. A patient with a walker or in a wheelchair may need additional help getting to the right room for a class, or finding the galleries.

Just like the attentiveness of staff, a reception areas’ appearance speaks volumes about the organization. “The atmosphere is the organization,” notes Brace. “A sloppy staff or Board of Directors will have a sloppy atmosphere.”

“At the least, people expect cleanliness, and they expect the reception area to be neat. And neat means that somebody should check the waiting room every hour or two to make sure that magazines aren’t strewn around, that dirty coffee cups and used tissues aren’t left on tables, and that wastebaskets are emptied. A reception area left alone from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon is going to be a mess.”

The appearance of the reception area reflects the attitude and the habits of a staff and its Board of Directors, “Your reception area teaches patrons how you will treat them and how they should treat your campus,” Brace says. “When patrons come to reception to ask for information and that desk is a mess, with papers scattered everywhere, or a DELAY in eye contact, you are sending the message that they are not important and not in the best of hands, the receptionist sends the message to the patron that they are an interruption. If the patron is standing, the receptionist should stand, ONLY if the patron sits should the receptionist join them”. A messy reception desk and worn-out furniture in the area also communicates that the organization doesn’t pay attention to billing and collections, Brace points out. “You can let parents know without saying a word that your organization doesn’t collect and you don’t expect patrons to pay their bills,” she says. “You can send a lot of subliminal messages just by the way your offices appear.”

Currently Brace is waiting for a new 9,200 square foot addition (which is under construction) to open up a new grand entrance with a new lobby/reception area with other amenities. She has a transition space they are working with for a reception area right now that has many challenges.

Brace came up with a way to keep her small reception area tidy. The old reception area was the Stage Door entrance right off the parking lot. “It was easy to maintain, because it was small, and it was hard to keep clean because it was small. In other centers I had always loved the look of sleek art industry magazines piled neatly on pretty little tables with posh treats and candies. We have never had that space, but with the new addition we will have a bit more. In our new space, I directed all of my energy toward making connections. I can’t think of anything more connecting than a smiling, friendly face.”

So rather than subscribing to magazines for this organization’s reception area, we are going to try a number of coffee-table books and display five or six at a time in the area, rotating them every couple of months. Many of these books are about art, music, theatre, film, and photography with lots of photos. “Kids and parents are more respectful of books,” Brace explains. I’ve often noticed kids wanting to take magazines home and moms ripping pages out of them. We want to create a permissible environment.

In addition to avoiding magazines, Brace recommends that vendors not be allowed to display promotional materials from partnering companies or any products the organization might be supporting, whether the HS Band or Red Cross Giving. “I’ve gone into centers where it looks like VARIETY provided the wallpaper,” she observes. “I never liked the feeling that I was a commodity.” We plan on having our CALL BOARD in the Green Room. The traditional theatre has a CALL BOARD where all messaging takes place. All messages, posts, ads, information to participants go on the call board. Anyone that participates in the organization can post on the call board, but posting fliers and posters on the glass doors, walls and reception desk is clutter and has no design element, which goes against the grain of anyone in an “arts” center. Just say NO! Put it on the CALL BOARD!

Natural light elevates mood and reinforces normal day-to-day rhythms, Brace adds. “Daylight is important to us as human beings. It sets our clock,” she says. “And it is as important for staff as it is for visitors. Not being exposed to a full spectrum of daylight disrupts your sleep patterns, your mood and your ‘food clock.’ “ In many large facilities, lobbies are situated by the front doors, so we usually get a lot of light. But organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, technology shows promise in allowing artificial light to be carefully controlled. “The color spectrum can be dialed in and modulated so you get warm light in the morning, cool light at noon and warm light at the end of the day, which simulates the effects of the sun,” Brace says. Although such a high-tech system would be cost-prohibitive for a typical room, Art rooms can use LED instead of linear fluorescent light fixtures in classrooms, Brace suggests. In addition to being more energy-efficient, LED lighting is less intrusive and more soothing to students because it doesn’t flicker or hum. “While we are waiting for the LED technology to mature, full-spectrum fluorescent lighting is a good alternative,” Brace adds. “Slightly more expensive than regular fluorescent lights but well worth the price, I enjoyed the health benefit of full-spectrum lighting throughout my office for 10 years.”

Artwork can help compensate for the lack of windows or a drab view of a parking lot. “If you don’t have access to a lovely view, art that evokes beautiful images of the natural world has been shown to be really beneficial to students,” Brace says. The use of color in a room should also reflect regional sensibilities, Brace says. Colors that would be inviting to patrons in the Southwest differ from those that would be appealing to patrons in the Midwest.

Offer a Private atmosphere

The receptionist should never assume that a visitor stopping by is friendly. It may be serious, always give them the opportunity to schedule an appointment if there isn’t time for the drop-in visit with the ED or Admin, or offer them privacy to speak with you!

  • Always OFFER PRIVACY!!! Wait for the Patron and the ED or Admin to respond, even if the patron may have dropped in socially, the ED may need to speak to the patron privately about a matter, the receptionist should wait for permission for BOTH to approve his/her presence for conversation.
  • Always offer the patron a note paper AND an envelope to seal the note for themselves for privacy in regards to the request for a meeting, they may not feel comfortable sharing with the receptionist, or there may be someone standing within earshot that has made it uncomfortable to share the reason for the visit.
  • First time patrons may be anxious about the seriousness of their visit. They may also be nervous about the procedures of auditions, dates that might be conflicting, or how to prepare their child if they’re parents. This conversation may be handled by the receptionist if in private and does not require the ED or Admin.
  • Parents are usually most uptight about finances and not willing to share that information with a receptionist/stranger.
    • The receptionist should be savvy in knowing how to ask questions regarding finances.
    • Would you like to speak with our Administrator about some of our tuition options? I can schedule a time with you to speak to her/him about that what is your availability?
    • Scholarships are available to all our students that meet the criteria. Here is the form. (Hand it to them) And our committee meets in April. It’s also online.
    • Never ask the patron questions about their finances. EVER!

Know your audience

Seating arrangements, furnishings and special amenities should be planned with the population in mind. Because some patron/participants value their privacy and are concerned about other people’s germs, it’s better to have small groupings of chairs rather than chairs lined up side-by-side along the perimeter of the hall, Brace says. Such arrangements allow family members to cluster together and create a homier atmosphere.

  • Waiting areas in centers should have a table or lap-desks on which students can do their homework, Brace recommends. Electrical outlets should be conveniently placed so students can plug in their laptops, tablets and other electronic devices. A Wi-Fi network should be available.
  • Such waiting areas should also include a play area for young children with—easy-to-clean, built-in toys that encourage quiet exploration and don’t create a mess.
  • Patron demographics should be considered when selecting furniture. Organizations that serve many geriatric patients should have some higher chairs with armrests so that individuals with hip problems can sit down and get up more easily.
  • The area might also have some wide chairs for obese patients.
  • Reflective spaces are places where artists can get away to a niche to be alone, not quite hidden, but space for one.
  • Whether a waiting room should have a television, as many do, is a matter of debate. For parents, where the waits tend to be longer, a TV can help reduce boredom. Perhaps if the television were used as a tool for art learning programs ONLY, there would be no stressful choices, and it would be a promotional tool. This could be used to promote all the inside events as well.
  • However, video monitors in a reception area can be used for educational purposes, such as explaining the impact of Presser Performing Arts Center on Mid-Missouri, the statistical data of our students engaged in the arts MAP scores vs those that are not, PPAC’s History, PPAC’s funding, Upcoming Events, Meet the Artists, and more.
    • An educational center within a reception area could also provide patrons with “Art” healthy nutritional information, Brace suggests.

Environmentally friendly space

Like other spaces in an ART facility, reception areas should be designed to minimize both clutter and environmental flow issues. But sometimes these goals seem to be in conflict. For example,

  • Offices are by the front door and deliveries are dropped off at the front door and they will sit there until someone has time to put them away.
  • Children are picked up at the front door, so they will gather and watch for their rides, hanging out, making noise, eavesdropping, and interrupting conversations.
  • Moms will arrive early and want to talk – a lot!
  • Strong cleaning solutions used to kill germs can cause respiratory problems.
  • Live plants that can help clean the air may be problematic for patrons with allergies, while artificial plants collect dust and may be difficult to clean.
  • Consequently, it is recommended that waiting room seats be covered in environmentally friendly nonwoven fabrics that are non-vinyl, manufactured without flame retardants and easy to clean.
  • Brace says, we must make sure that janitorial or environmental services workers understand which cleaning products can and cannot be used on floors, walls and other surfaces in the reception area.
  • The offices will accommodate the public by being close to the front door and it will require constant clean up dependent on weather/programs ie. Rain, snow, ice, noise, safety, running, glass door wipe down, etc.
  • Welcoming patrons to use the facilities all the time.

Whole-patron design

“There is no one aspect of the visit, or element of design, that conclusively defines the patron experience. Rather, a combination of both physical and social factors influences patrons.”
Board of Directors nowadays are under more and more external pressure to provide patron-centered, high-quality programs, state-of-the-art productions, and they must assess their own performance with board evaluations, patron-satisfaction surveys and other quality metrics, Brace points out. “In the old model, it was all about the Board,” she says. “Today, it’s about understanding your patrons’ experience, being empathetic, walking in their shoes. It’s not about the patron just sitting in the seat, waiting. It’s what our patrons tell others about their experience with us that matter the most.”

 

 

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