April 20, 2007

Rives new Shryock, Arena Promotions director

by Tim Crosby


Bryan L. Rives

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Bryan L. Rives, a performing arts professional with more than two decades of experience in various roles at venues throughout the Midwest, is the new director of Shryock Auditorium and Arena Promotions at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Rives, 40, oversees the entertainment lineups, maintenance and operations of Shryock Auditorium, as well as the non-sports entertainment booking at the SIU Arena.

A licensed private pilot with an affinity for photography, Rives began work March 30. He said he plans to build a relationship with the existing and potential audiences both on and off campus that take in the wide array of events that Shryock and the SIU Arena host.

"My goal is to work with the dedicated staff in building on the past success of this organization to ensure we present high-caliber talent of the sort students and the community at large wants to support with their attendance while balancing fiscal realities. It's not a small task but we will accomplish this goal," Rives said. "We will proactively seek out a dialogue with our current subscribers, students, faculty and staff, and the off-campus community to learn how we can best serve our customers. Only when we understand the community's needs and desires can we develop the plans to move forward and remain a cultural leader in the region."

Rives brings 22 years of experience, including the last dozen or so at the director or senior management level, to his new job. Most recently, he was chief operating officer for the Michigan Opera Theatre/Detroit Opera House, where he was responsible for a $14 million budget and some $75 million in real estate holdings and property. Previously, Rives managed The Whiting in Michigan and served as director of the Blanche M. Touhill Center for Performing Arts during its construction at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. He also managed the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington, Ind., which the Texas native has also adopted as his hometown.

Rives earned a bachelor's degree in theater production at the University of Texas, Austin and a master of arts in business and arts administration from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Rives said the SIUC position appealed to him for several reasons.

"Just getting back into a university setting was important to me," he said. "As COO at the Michigan Opera Theatre, we did one thing, which was opera, and I had very little to do with selecting and bringing in performers. Here, a major portion of my job is selecting shows for Shryock and the Arena, and I really love that."

Rives plans several initiatives to tap into the Southern Illinois audiences served by the two venues. This summer, he will set up a 24-hour telephone comment line to collect feedback. He also will advertise his email address and phone number so patrons can call with comments or suggestions. He also will welcome audiences personally during shows and invite them to communicate their entertainment interests.

At the same time, Rives is planning a series of marketing research and focus group sessions with students, staff and local residents and mail customer satisfaction surveys to audience members.

"People need to know we want to hear from them and value their perspective," Rives said.

Rives said he wants to be sure the two venues function efficiently. One guiding philosophy he uses states "The arts must survive as a business in order to thrive as art."

"This is a business and we'll be looking at all aspects of the organization to ensure we are serving the audience and the University," he said. "Shryock and the Arena are the front door to our University to the rest of the community when they come here to see entertainment. We need to make sure they reflect the high quality of our University."