Arts for all: The Performing Arts Department new ticket policy

Kip Kane, Staff Writer


Elgin Community College’s Performing Arts Department hosts a wide variety of performances throughout the year, involving both students and outside performers. A new decision by Tommy Hensel, the new senior director of the Performing Arts Department, allows students to see any ECC-hosted theater performance for free.

Money can be scarce, and many college students can’t fit a $30 or $40 show into their tight budgets. As a result, some students may be deprived of theatrical experiences that the Performing Arts Department works hard to create.

Hensel theorized that the high prices of shows were driving students away from attending, and by removing this “economic barrier”, more students could come and watch the shows the Performing Arts Department produces.

Before working at ECC, Hensel held the same position at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois for 14 years. He has worked in the business of bringing non-academic performers onto college stages, known as “presenting”, for a total of 20 years.

“I try to book shows that will help expand people’s minds,” Hensel said.

He chose to bring minority voices to the ECC stage, like lesbian comedian Jen Kober and controversial gay filmmaker John Waters.

Hensel emphasized the importance of seeing shows, even for those who do not typically enjoy the art of theater.

Even if you don’t like the shows, you only lost two hours of your life, and you probably gained something anyway,” Hensel said.

Hensel hopes to see more intersectionality between theater and non-performing fields at ECC.

“I’m hoping to see integration with other parts of the college,” Hensel said. “Think of all the math and science that goes into building a set. Carpentry, welding, painting, lighting design, costume design. People don’t think about all those hard things backstage.”