Behind the scenes at the Luhrs Center


There is always something to be gained by seeing a performance in person. It could happen when acclimating to a new and surreal environment within the auditorium. Maybe it occurs within the first measure, when the composer introduces the prelude of the play with a solo done by a vocalist. Or perhaps it occurs when the performer makes his or her appearance on the stage. The overall experience ties in with more than one of these features. But being able to afford and indulge on these occasions is a rarity for a lot of people.

However, as a resident and member of the Shippensburg community, there is one venue that comes to mind when wanting to experience live performances. With shows like Celtic Woman and Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas, the Luhrs Performing Arts Center is a premiere facility that contracts professional touring companies to visit and bring their shows to the Shippensburg University campus.

But how exactly did the Luhrs Center come about? Initially, the idea came about when former SU President Tony Ceddia had a vision for a high priority facility. At the time, H. Ric Luhrs was a chairman of the SU Board of Trustees, when the idea came about. He wanted the facility to be a regional center since there was a disconnection between the campus and community at that time.

When the proposal was made, the state offered to pay 50 percent for the building. The rest was to be privately funded.

In order to maintain the ideals that Luhrs had intended for, the current staff works very hard to best produce live shows and performances.

“Our goal is to make sure that the audience sees the best possible show and if there are hiccups along the way, they don’t notice them as part of the show. So from a backstage standpoint, it’s making sure that we get everything right when we set up and prepare,“ said Leslie Folmer Clinton, associate vice president for external affairs and director of the Luhrs Center.

Taking a more speculative look at what Clinton means is that, if there is a any kind of issue that needs looked at before a show or even during a show, that is resolved as soon as possible.
When comparing the Luhrs Center to Broadway, there are several things to consider. Broadway has been around for a considerably longer time. So it has the funding it needs and has a reputation to boot. Despite the Luhrs center being relatively recent, it certainly is strengthening the bond between the campus and community.

One of the ways in which the Luhrs Center reaches the community is through social media.
“Social media is an integral part of our marketing awareness for both the Luhrs Center and our performances,” said Mark Bodenhorn, director of marketing and administrative services. “We promote our performances on Facebook and Twitter and also have both LinkedIn and YouTube pages. We have recently updated our website and used responsive design to create a mobile version of our site with some portions still under construction.”

There are also e-newsletters that go out every other week to people who want to receive one. And soon Luhrs will be switching to Constant Contact, which gives the center more template options and allows it to send out online surveys. It is evident that the Luhrs Center is constantly measuring and evaluating its ability to produce and promote for the people who visit.

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