Looking over Chanticleer’s touring schedule, you’ll see some of the nations biggest cities: Seattle, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York City. Hidden in the midst of these large venues, you’ll find Hesston, Kansas. It’s not the most prestigious place on the map, but it is a place that Chanticleer’s general manager, Curt Hancock calls “the lifeblood of Chanticleer’s career.”
Chanticleer, a world-renowned vocal group, performs all over. But according to Hancock, location doesn’t really matter.
“All that’s required is a place to perform and an audience that longs to hear music performed live,” he said.
Chanticleer isn’t the only big name that makes its way to Hesston College. The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series brings popular ensembles like The King’s Singers, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and the Wailin’ Jennys, to name a few.
It has always been HBPA’s aim to provide access to entertaining and diverse performances like those to the small audiences at Bethel and Hesston, according to Matt Schloneger, the director of HBPA since 2007.
“It is our mission to provide programming that is both entertaining and educational,” he said.
But bringing in that entertaining and educational programming takes large sums of money. HPBA’s annual budget is $75,000, but only 40-50 percent of that money comes from ticket profits. The deficit is paid for with donations from patrons and businesses, as well as through grants and advertising revenue.
HBPA receives donations both large and small.
“This year, our largest gifts have come in the form of grants,” says Schloneger.
HBPA’s Biggest Grants (2015-2016):
National Endowment for the Arts
Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission
City of Hesston
City of North Newton
Hustler Turf Equipment
This year’s HBPA season is coming to a close, with Chanticleer’s performance Feb. 23 and the Swingles on April 3. HPBA will announce their 2016-2017 season at the Swingles concert. Schloneger says that the organization will continue to provide “the same world-class music from a variety of genres and cultures” in the coming years.
HPBA has been around since 1998, but the organization’s origins go back to 1982 with the Hesston Performing Arts series. In 1998, Bethel College joined with HPA, and the Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series was born. It has brought big time music to two small towns ever since.