Please welcome our newest members who joined IAVM in February 2017. Thank you for being a part of the association!
Also, let us get to know you better by participating in the I Am Venue Management series. Please visit http://www.iavm.org/i-am-venue-management-share-your-story to share your story and photo.
Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director of the Frank Erwin Center, John Graham, announced last week that he will retire from his position at the end of August 2017. Graham is only the second director of the Frank Erwin Center, following Dean Justice, CFE who opened the venue in 1977 at the University of Texas at Austin.
Graham got his start in the arena industry in 1980 as the events manager of Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He spent nine years at Assembly Hall, working his way up to assistant director and then associate director, before moving to Austin to join the Frank Erwin Center as associate director in May 1989. He was then promoted to director in October 1990.
During Graham’s 28-year tenure, he was instrumental in bringing world renowned events to the Frank Erwin Center including the first ever WWF (now WWE) event in 1989, which was a sellout with approximately 17,000 fans in attendance, the Davis Cup quarterfinal between the U.S and Spain in 2011, two nights of Paul McCartney’s 2013 “Out There” tour, a project which took approximately two years to come to fruition, and most recently, the iHeartCountry Music Festival, which returns for its fourth year this May.
“I knew of John’s great work long before I became Men’s Athletics Director from attending events ranging from graduations and concerts to memorial services,” said Mike Perrin. “I’ve always had great admiration for how he managed the Erwin Center. Along with all of the Longhorn athletics events he’s overseen for decades in a first class fashion, he consistently attracts some of the finest entertainment available to our campus and the city of Austin. There’s always something special going on at the Erwin Center, and John and the staff do an amazing job of handling every detail so a variety of events can go off without a hitch. The quick turnaround between tightly scheduled events has always impressed me. Since becoming Men’s AD my appreciation for John and his service to our Athletics Department and University has only grown. We will miss him, his good humor and his positive presence, but I join his other admirers in wishing him the best in retirement.”
Former Chancellor of the University of Texas System Dr. William Cunningham remembers fully well the responsibilities that came along with Graham’s position.
“John Graham has one of the most difficult jobs at The University – managing the Frank Erwin Center,” Cunningham said. “He is responsible for the financial integrity of the Erwin Center, as well as maintaining an excellent relationship with the performers, staff, and patrons of the Erwin Center. John’s drive for excellence in all endeavors will be greatly missed at the University when he retires.”
Fitting for a program taking place on a college campus, when Russ Vandenberg, CFE, thinks of the IAVM Senior Executive Symposium (SES) that will be held on May 15-18 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he thinks of the four-day school for senior-level venue managers and other individuals on a leadership track inside their organization in terms of college degrees.
“I had gone to the Venue Management School (VMS) and then the Graduate Institute (GI) and here comes the SES,” said Vandenberg, chair of the Board of Governors for the symposium. “I knew at that point that if VMS served as an undergraduate degree, then GI served as a graduate degree in my mind and SES had to be the PhD for the industry.”
After working his way through all three schools, Vandenberg graduated from SES in 2013. He began his Board of Governor chair service the next year and now sits as chair as he prepares for a seventh trip to Cornell. It is an experience he can’t get enough of.
“Every year I gain something more,” Vandenberg said. “I feel like I am a student all over again. You can’t absorb enough of this stuff. I feel so fortunate to have gone those many years. That probably isn’t the path for everybody, but when you believe in it so much you want to support it and give something back. I feel like that is my way of giving back to my association. I’m a cheerleader. I’m standing on top of the chair. For others who have gone through it, I haven’t heard a single person say that they regretted going. Not one person has said it is a waste of time or money.”
Carl Adkins certainly falls into that category. Adkins served as the long-time general manager of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and will serve as executive director for three mega-events coming to Atlanta over the next three years, including the 2019 Super Bowl at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Other major upcoming events include college football’s national championship game in January 2018 and the college basketball Final Four in April 2020. Officially, Adkins is executive director of the Atlanta Football Host Committee. Much of Adkins’ increased professional responsibilities has its roots in the SES.
“SES was such an excellent program I actually attended three times,” he said. “The first three years were so great that I worked hard to get on the Board of Governors so I could come back and go through the program again a few years later. Thanks to some term length quirks, I was fortunate enough to serve another three years including two years as Chair of the Board of Governors. I’ve always felt it was the best program in IAVM’s arsenal of offerings. There is the Ivy League faculty, incredible setting, intimate classroom environment and time to get away from the day-to-day grind and really THINK. I would, and still do, tell folks they’re missing out on something special if they haven’t been.”’
Vandenberg agrees that SES serves as the pinnacle of IAVM programming.
“IAVM did it right when they put this program together,” he said. “They gave us an opportunity to put our skills to the test and apply it toward real-life experiences. Being in a small group was also very positive for me with just the interaction with students and the exchanging of ideas. That’s what IAVM is about, as well.”
Vandenberg has been in the industry since the 1980s and remembers those days when there was not a lot of professional education to be found in the industry.
“Other than district meetings, as they were called back then, and a few operational conferences, we really did not have a lot of programs around,” he said. “VMS came along in 1987 and was something I could not wait to do. I applied for a scholarship out of our district and fortunately was awarded it to go. Once I got a taste of seeing what others could do and how they did it, I was hungry and couldn’t wait for the next year. I am looking at the certificate on my wall right now. I graduated June 6, 1991.”
This year’s SES will have as the theme Leadership Culture For The Future. There will be focus on Diversity in the Workplace, Ethical Dimensions of Leadership, Loyalty & Brand Management, and Applied HR Strategies.
“The caliber of instructors is incredible,” said Vandenberg, general manager of the Seaside Civic & Convention Center in Seaside, Oregon. “You are in a setting with 50 to 75 senior executive and I don’t mean senior as in senior citizen but as in classifications. We’re talking fellow general managers and assistant general managers. It is not limited to that, either. There are a lot of people that work in other areas of facility management. It is sort of a final frontier as far as I am concerned for public facility managers. You don’t get better than this.”
Actually, you might. Vandenberg and his peers have often chatted about what really could be next on that distant frontier of learning.
“What’s beyond this?” he asked. “Everybody says, we don’t know, but people are starting to get hungry again for this kind of education. A lot of people like me who have gone through it wonder what is on the horizon. Why limit ourselves?”
For now, though, there is a March 15 deadline for applications to be accepted. Others will be honored later if space is still available. For more information, click here.
IAVM wishes to also acknowledge others who take their valuable time to serve on the Board of Governors to help promote the very best in industry education. Those individuals are Lisanne Lewis, CFE – Vice Chair; Kathy Lowrey – Past Chair; Paul Broadhead; Kim Gallucci; Michael Garcia, CFE; Michael Johnson; Bill McDonald; and Anne Wheat, CVP.
The following article was originally published by Wenger Corporation on its performing arts blog.
Over three weeks we’re examining security in performing arts centers from different angles: operations, planning and training. First we focused on the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas; second we reviewed planning from the perspectives of a theatre consultant and security expert. Finally this week we focus on effective training.
“Because of the crowd dynamic at performing arts facilities, there hasn’t been a lot of terrorism or criminal activity,” says Mark Herrera, Director of Education with the IAVM. A former law enforcement officer, he also represents public assembly facilities for committees of the National Fire Protection Association and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“These venues are considered soft targets by DHS, and all soft targets are increasingly becoming targets of choice,” he adds. “At IAVM we are working to stay ahead of the curve by being very proactive with security in performing arts facilities.”
These measures include considering the building’s physical structure, layout and landscaping, along with deploying warning and scanning technology. But Herrera considers all those just Band-Aids: necessary but secondary in importance.
Watching Baseline. “All the tools you provide are only as good as the people using them,” he explains. “Facilities need to emphasize training all their key stakeholders and staff – to provide everyone with exceptional focus, performance and control in extreme situations.”
After 9/11, Herrera worked for DHS, training armed personnel how to regain control of a hijacked aircraft. Herrera says any crowd of people has a certain behavioral baseline – how people act and conduct themselves – that’s observable. Whether preventing hijackings or attacks on performing arts facilities, the solution starts with spotting the potential threat beforehand.
“We’ve brought these ideas from aircraft safety down to ground level,” Herrera notes. “If you notice an anomaly among the crowd, you can predict that person will likely cross a threshold and commit some type of disruptive or violent action,” he explains. “But by intervening first, you can possibly deter these plans.”
Herrera says the front-line staff who work at a facility’s exterior perimeters perform key roles as “eyes and ears” because those areas are usually where the threat will be initially staged.
“Those employees may feel their jobs are less important – monitoring the traffic or walking the parking lot – but we need to teach them the value they can provide,” advises Herrera. “It’s all about situational awareness.”
This includes training guest services personnel to continually scan the environment for challenges and potential danger, all while performing their regular duties.
Increasing Motivation. For venue managers who want front-line staff to realize the value of their role, Herrera recommends reality-based training. “In a controlled environment, show a devastating outcome and explain how their negligence, oversight or inability enabled that catastrophic event to happen,” he contends.
Along with providing employees with proper tools and effective training, managers should continually reinforce the employees’ importance through rewards and recognition.
Herrera recommends debriefing meetings after every event, where staff are required to share “near-miss reports” about activities and circumstances that could have been handled better. “I’d ask each employee to list five things – in either guest service or security – that were unusual or challenging,” he explains. “These are situations where nothing bad happened, but where a negative outcome might have occurred.”
During debriefing discussions, staff can brainstorm – not point fingers – and strategize alternative responses in the future. Employees are recognized for their contributions; such meetings become the foundation for learning and improvements.
After a period of time, perhaps a year, these debriefing meetings might be suspended, because employees will have become conditioned for situational awareness and constant vigilance. The resulting benefits will continue long into the future.
5 Steps for Venue Managers. For instilling best security practices in PACs or other venues, Herrera recommends these five steps:
1) Conduct baseline risk assessment of the venue. Using an accepted risk methodology, prioritize possible threats by analyzing their likelihood and consequences. Re-evaluate risks after any major crisis or adverse event at other facilities.
2) Develop scalable, practical security program. Incorporate people, technology and procedures to detect, deter and defend against threats, focusing on risks with the highest likelihood and worst consequences.
3) Select and train security staff. Vet a workforce with knowledge, skills and abilities to implement security program and adapt as needed in an ever-changing risk environment.
4) Manage communications. Coordinate with internal staff and stakeholders, along with local, state and federal agencies. Invite these agencies for on-site training.
5) Train staff continuously. Repetition aids recall, making the proper response automatic and instantaneous.
Training the Industry. Next month in Dallas, the IAVM will hold its annual Academy for Venue Safety & Security (AVSS), designed to train venue and event managers, security professionals and other key personnel involved in venue safety and security. AVSS is a two-year school divided into two week-long sessions held a year apart. Four key disciplines are covered: emergency management, risk management, operations and training.
Outside of the formal AVSS curriculum, Herrera says IAVM’s regular conferences and events also provide members and others in the industry the opportunity to receive security training from leading experts.
“I always tell people that we don’t want to live in a bubble,” concludes Herrera. “We want to stay ahead of today’s threats – and tomorrow’s – with a strong plan, effective training and proactive involvement of all the key stakeholders, from the administrative level all the way down.”
The past and future for the Performing Arts Managers Conference was served up along with lunch on Tuesday as the conference hit the mid-point of this year’s 25th anniversary celebration at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.
After Committee Chair Larry Henley gave a recount of the cities that have hosted PAMC and recognized Wenger as a sponsor for the conference’s existence, he called on Robyn Williams and Rip Rippetoe to share some experiences from having attended all 25 years.
“At our first one in Chicago in 1992, we had maybe 75 people,” Williams said. “We were calling people … are you coming? Will you be on a panel? I had quit smoking and went outside in front of the Chicago Theatre and bummed a cigarette, I was so stressed.”
“We didn’t even have a budget,” added Rippetoe. “We didn’t have badges, either. We had the peel ones that said, Hello, my name is …”
As this year’s attendance totaled 344, Williams acknowledged that, “This didn’t happen because of us. It happened because of you coming back year after year.”
IAVM Director of Development Meredith Merritt praised the sector for making donations possible for five individuals to receive 2017 Joseph A. Floreano Scholarships + Internship Programs. She thanked Ungerboeck Software, WJHW, and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects for their generous donations toward the scholarships.
PAMC excels at numbers, so it was no surprise when Merritt noted that the group’s goal for sponsors this year was $93,000 and was easily topped at $151,480.
After the deserved applause died down, Merritt said that since 1997 the sector has raised $1,233,453, from Professional and Allied members for the IAVM Foundation, a figure representing more than one-third of the total of $3,206,453 raised since that time by all sectors combined.
IAVM Director of Meetings Bill Jenkins concluded with a presentation of the association’s conference strategy heading into VenueConnect 2017 from August 7-10 in Nashville. It will mark the next opportunity for the PAMC to be held as all sector meetings now officially roll into VenueConnect.
A video on Nashville then played to wrap up a session in which PAMC was not only celebrated but raises a toast to a proud and thriving sector.