Foothills Performing Arts Center Brings Eclectic Music to Oneonta

Foothills Performing Arts Center

Faith Logue, Contributing Writer

Foothills PAC located on Market Street is a not-for-profit entertainment and civic center that serves the cultural, educational, and community needs of Oneonta and beyond. Since opening in 2005, it has become known for its exciting live entertainment from nationally known musicians and local favorites. Besides music, Foothills hosts theatrical, comedic, and dramatic performances for crowds of up to 775 people. 

Geoff Doyle, Executive Director of Foothills, has been working at the venue for 16 years. His day-to-day activities include designing posters and graphics, writing grants, conducting building tours, and data entry – plus creating the magic at Foothills by booking a little bit of everything. The venue features dozens of events each month, with something for everybody. 

The venue includes several different areas. “The Wright/Wilber National Bank Atrium is a multi-use event space. That can be everything from blood drives and farmers markets to weddings, birthday parties, and celebrations of life. That room is our most popular rental room, that’s for sure,” Doyle said. Another area includes the Bettiol Theater, featuring local music acts, symphony orchestras, the community concert band, and even the iconic Orpheus Theatre – bringing youth programming and musical theatre to the Oneonta community since 1984. 

Other places in the venue include the Production Center where Bigger Dreams Productions puts on anywhere from four to eight different performances each year, and The Loft – a small 200-person concert space that is not only very popular for local musicians but also for birthday parties, baby showers, and things of that nature. “Every space here gets used for a bunch of weird stuff all the time, and no two weeks are the same,” Doyle said. He is continuing to do more out-of-the-box ideas – moving away from tribute bands and getting “some stuff that will get people excited…Not all of the bands I’m bringing in have a name for themselves quite yet, but you know you only live once, you got to take risks, I suppose,” he added.

Local musicians can get booked easily. “People can reach out to me for booking for sure. We also have made arrangements with bands where they rent the room and get to keep the money from all the tickets sold. There are different ways we can do things,” Doyle said. Bands can even take advantage of Foothills’ in-house recording studio- Black Hole Studios. A fully functioning space, they can book it for just $20 an hour. It comes with everything – like amplifiers and drums – and bands just need their guitars to plug in. SUNY Oneonta is fortunate enough to have some on-campus studios available for students to rent, but they get booked fast; Black Hole Studios allows for bands to record quicker with professional staff on hand.

Foothills has an extensive internship program. This semester, the program tripled in numbers due to the Black Oak on Main Street getting rid of its program. Doyle explained that interns get a calendar of events every week that are relevant to the music industry, with the opportunity to book shows from the ground up. Some days the interns are there for a few hours or 12, with Doyle joking he will “feed them Chinese food and pizza to get them through the day.” 

Sara Donovan, a senior Music Industry student, is a recent intern at Foothills, and “would definitely recommend it.” She had a multitude of duties, including “running the soundboard and lights during various types of shows like concerts, stand-up comedy shows, and more.” She also sold tickets, set up and tore down stage sets, and did “general venue hospitality.” She said the staff are extraordinary and are always willing to teach and help the interns. 

In the music industry, especially the non-profit sector, knowing a little bit of everything will help you go far. Hence, the Foothills internship sets students up for success and is a great asset to the community. Plus, as Doyle pointed out, the atmosphere of these types of shows versus a bar show is that the focus is on the music, with drinking and socializing coming second. 

There is something for everyone at Foothills. Keep an eye on their socials and website because you will see something you like. If you are interested in the internship, you can reach out to him for more information.

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