W-M schools look to bring more shows to PAC

Watertown-Mayer schools recently entered into a partnership with an entertainment booking agency to bring more shows to the Performing Arts Center.
Watertown-Mayer schools recently entered into a partnership with an entertainment booking agency to bring more shows to the Performing Arts Center.

In a move designed to increase exposure to its state of the art Performing Arts Center while simultaneously bringing more entertainment options to Watertown residents, the Watertown-Mayer School District has partnered with a St. Cloud entertainment agency to bring series of events to the PAC.

The school district recently partnered G.L. Berg Entertainment, Artists and Speakers in an agreement that essentially will allow the company to utilize the school district’s 5-year-old Performing Arts Center to host events at no cost. The company will retain any profits from the shows, but also assumes all financial risk. The school district cannot make or lose any money from the arrangement, but will benefit from having a fuller slate of events at the PAC.

“We have a beautiful facility that our taxpayers voted on an agreed to build,” Marlette said. “Our PAC, in the past, has been very underutilized. One of my goals is that I want to utilize that PAC center like it was meant to be when taxpayers approved it.”

The company already announced last week that its first show at the PAC would be a comedy show set for deer hunting weekend on Nov. 2. The show, called the Hunting Weekend Widows Comedy Show, is geared toward women, but anybody is welcome.

Ryan Meints, a talent consultant for G.L. Berg, said the company ultimately hopes to develop some sort of entertainment series at the PAC, starting with the Nov. 2 comedy show. The company — one of the largest talent agencies in the Midwest that provides entertainers for fairs and festivals around the country, including the Minnesota State Fair — hopes to have hosted three shows by the end of the year or early 2013.

Meints said the PAC would be a great venue for his company to utilize.

“From our end, it’s one of the best facilities we’ve seen in the area,” he said.

The agreement is simply a business venture for G.L. Berg, which is assuming a fair amount of financial risk, especially for the first several shows, but hopes to begin to make a profit in the near future. The benefit for the Watertown-Mayer schools and the community is a bit less tangible in nature, but important nonetheless.

The new agreement will ensure that the facility is used on a regular basis, and in a manner that will benefit not just the school, but also the community as a whole. The idea is that each event will draw in new people, further exposing the facility to a larger audience throughout the area.

“We want to let the community know this venue exists, and that it’s a great facility,” Meints said. “That way the public can come to know and expect there will be great performances happening right in their own backyard. They don’t have to go to the Orpheum in downtown Minneapolis to see these things.”

Marlette, too, indicated that simply exposing the facility to new groups of people is the most important element of the agreement.
“I’m sure there are some people in the community that have never been in there,” Marlette said. “That’s a shame, because it’s one of the state of the art facilities in the area. Everybody that comes in, their jaw hits the floor.”

Meints stressed that the goal with this agreement is not to interfere or detract from events already held at the PAC, such as the Watertown Area Fine Arts Council’s recent jazz concert, River City Theatre Company productions, school band and choir concerts, or other events. Instead, Meints said his company’s goal is to find its own niche with the facility, focusing on events designed solely to entertain.

For instance, in addition to comedians, G.L. Berg represents entertainers such as magicians, hypnotists, musical tribute bands and performers in just about any genre. Meints said potential follow-up shows to the comedy show could include anything ranging from circus-style performers to dueling pianos.

Meints did make clear, however, that every show his company hosts at the PAC would be family friendly, including the upcoming Nov. 2 comedy performance.

“All of the shows we’ll be doing are completely appropriate for any age,” he said. “Obviously, some will appeal more to different demographics than to others, but they will not be offensive. You won’t hear swear words or be offended in any way. It’s not a comedy club. High school kids are welcome and seniors are welcome. We’re not there to segregate or eliminate people.”

The Hunting Weekend Widows comedy show will begin at 7:30 p.m. and feature double-headliners Mary Rowles and Jason Schommer. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, and are available online through www.glbergpresents.com or through Watertown Pharmacy, Marketplace Foods and the Watertown-Mayer Community Education office.