Tilles Center expands programming to ‘cast wider net’ for patrons

Tilles Center expands programming to ‘cast wider net’ for patrons
(Photo courtesy of Tilles Center)

Tilles Center Executive Director William Biddle was hired two years ago to expand the programming at the LIU Post performing arts center.

Tilles Center Executive Director William Biddle was hired two years ago to expand the programming. (Photo courtesy of Tilles Center)

“Our role as a community performing arts center really is to find and meet people where they’re at and move them along,” Biddle said. “They may come to us through the Chinese acrobats, but maybe they’ll try a Broadway show. Trying to find things that are relevant to our audiences and we realize that for us to be successful, you have to cast a much wider net.”

Originally from New Jersey, Biddle said he has spent most of his career running community-based, university-owned arts centers with a focus on programming for the external community as well as the student population.

Biddle said in the last three to five years, audiences have changed and programming needed to change with them.

“Tilles historically has been known for the best in what a lot of folks consider world-class performances — the best orchestras, the best dance companies,” Biddle said. “My programming philosophy really boils down to always presenting world-class performances, but understanding that world-class has different meanings for different people. For some people, it’s Michael McDonald. For other people, it’s the Royal Philharmonic. For other folks, it’s the New York City Ballet and for others, it’s Larry the Cable Guy.”

The Tilles Center added classic rock programming to their schedule last summer.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Sandick)

Biddle said the Tilles Center, which used to run on the academic year calendar with summers off, added some classic rock performances last summer and has looked at redoing the center’s plaza area for some outdoor programming as well.

Biddle also said this is the first year the center has offered multiple sensory-friendly performances for children and adults on the autism spectrum, including the upcoming Red Kite Treasure Adventures shows in March in the center’s Patrons Lounge. The shows are small, meant for about 12 people and their caretakers.

“It’s a very intimate and safe space,” Biddle said. “There’s no extreme lighting or extreme sound, and we’re working with the Chicago Children’s Theater Company on that, and we’re training our teachers through our arts education program to work on these sensory-friendly performances.

(Photo courtesy of Steve Sandick)

“I’m hoping in the next year or so, out of this training, we’ll put together our own show that we will take throughout Long Island, taking that show to the communities. That’s part of a central part of our mission, to make the arts more accessible to more people.”

Biddle said last year the center offered a viewing of “The Godfather” with a live orchestra playing the score and is considering doing a similar event with the “Star Wars” saga films this year.

Biddle has also focused on expanding the arts education programs through the Tilles Center, including sending master classes to more than a dozen local dance studios with companies performing at the center. The students are given opportunities to take workshops from professional dancers and choreographers before seeing the shows.

(Photo courtesy of Steve Sandick)

Biddle said the Martha Graham Dance Company is in residency at the center through April and will work with LIU Post students as well as high schoolers, discussing the Martha Graham legacy and style before a choreographer sets a piece with the students to be shown at the company’s concert.

Biddle said his focus is to increase not only the quantity of shows but the quality of the performances brought to the Greenvale campus.

“If someone’s going to put out the money to attend a world-class orchestra, they’re going to see one of the best in the world,” Biddle said. “Next season alone, we haven’t officially announced this yet, but we’re bringing one of the top five orchestras in the world that will be performing here. Our orchestra series will rival some of the performances at Carnegie Hall.”

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here