Peter Van Heerden


As head of the Quick Center for the Arts, Mr. Heerden is in an authoritative position to inform the Y’s Men that participation in the performing arts is declining.  At the same time the number of non-profit organizations for arts is growing.  This combination presents the Quick Center and Mr. Heerden with some major challenges.  These include: fund raising; building attendance; dealing with a lack of time and board of directors development.

The importance of fund raising is quickly realized when faced with the fact that a performance at the Quick Center loses between $10,000-$25,000 a night even when all the seats are filled.  Financially it doesn’t make sense to operate the Center, but it is done because of a belief that art is necessary for a full life.

The attendance problem is exacerbated by the younger millennial generation that for the most part ignores the arts.  Why is somewhat of an open question, but Mr. Van Heerden believes that the younger generations are used to more interactive activities that are extremely quick paced.  He feels they don’t have patience for the slower moving traditional arts that don’t allow them to interact. 

Funding is also a challenge due to the competition from the many art organizations competing for the same dollars.  And as part of Fairfield University with an annual tuition of $62,000, many feel that the university and its Quick Center are rich.  But, Mr Van Heerden assures us that is not the case – far from it.

The Quick Center has an outreach fund and programs to help alleviate the art crisis.  It tailors special experiences for the young and sponsors a summer camp.  It also has what it refers to as an Open Visions Forum, which brings in world class teachers of great renown to lecture on topics of interest.  The Center also is bringing in theater as well as shows that would appeal to younger audiences such as the Yamato Drummers and the Grammy Award winning singer Patty Griffin.

Of special interest to the Y’s Men is the promotional offer that any Y’s Man may give the code ”Ysmen” and receive one free ticket to any event excepting opera.


Q.  What are your feelings toward performance art shows on television?

A.  They have to be taken into consideration especially as fund raisers, but communal experiences are more powerful.

Q.  What about the National Theater live from London playing today?

A.  This is a true theater experience, which is wonderful.  I urge everyone to attend.

Q.  Does your success with opera indicate a growing interest in classical music?

A.  Opera lovers love opera.  It doesn’t indicate any growing interest in classical music.

Q.  Your announcer for the Open Visions programs is really full of himself.  Will he continue this year?

A.  You are not the only one to make that observation.  We are having a conversation about it and using a tighter leash.  By the way, I encourage criticism.

Q.  Are Millennials basically different than older generations?

A.  I don’t have the answer.  I encounter Millennials on campus every day.  They want something in return for their attendance.  It has to be transactional.

Q.  Would you bring Broadway or sports to the Center?

A.  We are looking into it, but not yet.  Broadway is not cheap.

Q.  Was your presentation of Hamlet a one-shot deal?

A.  Unfortunately, yes until they decide to release it again.