Harrisburg University adds live entertainment class to tap into local industry

Ioannis Pashakis//December 10, 2019

Harrisburg University adds live entertainment class to tap into local industry

Ioannis Pashakis//December 10, 2019

Death Cab For Cutie performs at Harrisburg’s Riverfront Park on June 19. PHOTO PROVIDED

Harrisburg’s concert scene had room to grow when Harrisburg University decided to launch its own concert series—now a year into the program, the university is offering students an entry point into the live entertainment industry with a new course.

Live entertainment 101, a course put together by a number of experts in the live entertainment industry, is set to have its first class next month and will help students learn how to join an industry known for being difficult to enter.

The course builds on the success of Harrisburg University Presents, a concert series launched a year ago with The Struts at Club XL in Harrisburg. And it’s been a busy year since then for the series with Frank Schofield, director of music and media services for the university, bringing in internationally known acts such as Death Cab for Cutie and Grace Potter.

The series has been successful on two fronts, Schofield said; it’s selling out shows, and raising the university’s profile.

Frank Schofield, director of music and media services, had more than 18 years of experience working at IHeartMedia before joining the university to run its Harrisburg University Presents concert series. PHOTO/ IOANNIS PASHAKIS

“We came up with the concept that if we did some branding and some shows, and helped revive the music scene, that it would help with the branding of the university and raise awareness of all the good things the university has to offer,” he said.

Live entertainment is a growing industry in the midstate thanks to Lititz being home to some of the biggest names in the business. Despite the region’s connections to concert production companies like Atomic, Clair and Tait, there are many paths students can take to into the industry. Live entertainment includes booking, sales, marketing, design, production, sound and more that make up months of preparation for one concert.

“The live entertainment industry is a massive industry that people don’t know about and they don’t know how to get involved in,” Schofield said. “There is no entry point.”

Live Entertainment 101, a course created by Schofield along with Ami Gaio of Rock Lititz, and professors Charles Palmer and Barbara Geisler, is the university’s attempt at making such an entry point.

As part of the university’s bachelor of science in management, entrepreneurship and business administration, or MEBA program, the introductory course will walk its first batch of students through the different opportunities available in live entertainment.

The first 10 students to take the class will get hands on experience on the sets of Harrisburg University Presents’ shows and work with professional artists and tour and stage managers, said Schofield.

“I hope to learn as much as I can about the music industry,” said Donya Powell, a Harrisburg University student that plans to own their own record label. “In my four years of study, I have learned principals of business, but I have yet to see them used in the industry I dream to be in.”

Anyone interested in any facet of the industry would benefit from a general understanding of what makes up a concert, said Dan LaFauci, director of human resources for Atomic, a set construction, design and production company based in Lititz.

“A course focused on an introduction into the industry is a step in getting our local talent prepared to plug into companies like Atomic and others,” LaFauci said. “It is a great starting point but all of the technical training is important depending on the path someone wants to take.”

Schofield doesn’t want the class to sugar coat the industry and focus on the glamourous parts of running a concert. Instead, he hopes his students see the parts of the industry that no one else sees, like the logistics of catering to staff and the months of preparation that go into netting an act.

The class has already filled its ten available seats and the school hopes to take what it learns at the end of the semester and will be looking at how it can grow the concert series and the educational piece in the future, Schofield said.

“We’ve all been part of this process to create a course that we think will benefit the kids and make this a live entertainment college down the road.”