Following the opening of Sonoma State University's Weill Hall this fall, the $125-million concert venue has been under intense scrutiny as patrons, musicians and staff proceed through the process of evaluation and fine-tuning.
"It's been a trial period for us and our patrons, and we've taken in a lot of feedback," said Jessica Anderson, marketing manager of the Green Music Center, which oversees the hall. "The first year is about testing the waters and seeing what works and what doesn't."
During the last two concerts of the MasterCard Performance Series, the university started sending out online surveys to ticket-holders to gather even more input.
"So far, we're getting really valuable feedback," Anderson said. "And we're scoring high on overall satisfaction."
Among the MasterCard series shows, the Jazz & World Music Series has attracted the most audience members, followed closely by orchestral offerings, Anderson said.
"The vocal concerts have not sold as well as our other performances," she added. "We're working closely with the artistic administration to provide analytics on what the audience is really supporting."
Regional data collected on ticket sales reveal that the hall has primarily lured in local music lovers. Among single-concert purchases by households, 83 percent of the sales were in Sonoma County, 5.6 percent in Marin, 3.8 in the greater Bay Area, 1.9 percent in San Francisco and 1.3 percent in Napa.
One of the first things the university plans to address this year is improved signage across the campus and parking lot to help with traffic flow.
"As people are coming in, especially from the main entrance, we want to help move people to the back corner of the campus," Anderson said.
They also hope to improve the sound of amplified concerts.