Whether or not students choose to attend the “UConn Family Weekend Special” featuring comedian Jay Leno, the student body can rest assured that the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts did not use student university fees to pay for the event.
“Our artists pay for themselves through ticket income,” Rock said. “For the programming at Jorgensen, whatever we spend in artist fees for the year, that’s pretty much what we shoot to make back in ticket income for the year.”
Leno’s performance, however, which will cost the Jorgensen a hefty $150,000, may, or may not be entirely made up through the ticket sales for the Sept. 20 performance.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that whatever we spend for any given artists we always make that much money up on the artists,” Rock said. “We lose money on some events, we make money on other events, and at the end of the year, it generally works out that we make right around exactly what we spend on ticket income.”
Leno, an acclaimed television late night host, children’s book author and philanthropist, was scheduled by Rock, a student program advisory board and other staff with the intent of pleasing a diverse audience, Rock said.
“It’s a little bit tough,” Rock said, “because we’re trying to find an event that, on the one hand is going to be somewhat appealing to a student audience, but also one that’s going to appeal to their parents and maybe grandparents and siblings.”
The Jorgensen Center does not have a sponsor for Leno’s event, and no other campus department is sponsoring the event, Rock said.
Though Leno’s cost may be high, well-known artists generally pull in the most ticket sales for the Jorgensen Center, which seats more than 2,300 spectators.
“High profile artists and entertainers always do better than less expensive, lesser-known names,” Rock said.
With a net worth of approximately $350 million, it is unclear whether or not Leno’s $150,000 payout will fund another classic in the renowned aircraft hangar which stores the comedian’s extensive car collection, but regardless, members of the UConn student body can be certain it was not their tuition money that put it there.
“(Leno’s contract was) processed through the state of Connecticut, and we have a commitment for $150,000,” Rock said. “We try our darndest to recover that money through ticket income.”