Barney Byard returns to Orpheum Theatre

WICHITA — Barney Byard has taken what he calls “the proverbial offer that couldn’t be refused.”

When Byard got a call about interviewing to be the new theater director at the Orpheum Theatre, he figured he’d go as a professional courtesy. He wasn’t interested in the job because he already had a similar job at Century II.

“I was really happy at C II,” he says.

Byard says, though, that he immediately realized what the Orpheum’s new partnership with SMG could mean.

“I’m really excited about the prospects here, and particularly the role that SMG can play,” he says.

Byard previously was the Orpheum’s promotions and theater manager from 2000 to 2003.

“I was kind of just a lone wolf trying to figure it out as I went along,” he says.

The SMG connection is “invaluable,” he says.

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Hartman Arena has a new general manager

UPDATED – James Snodgrass is out as the third general manager of the 5-year-old Hartman Arena, but he’s reluctant to discuss it.

“They still haven’t given me a reason why I was let go.”

Snodgrass, who was hired in spring 2011, won’t say more.

“I would like to take the high road on this one.”

Arena owner Wink Hartman Sr. says he didn’t make the decision alone.

“It was a group decision with VenuWorks, his employer, having the final decision,” Hartman says.

“It’s been our view all along that we were going to take a look and evaluate and … see if a change was necessary,” says John Siehl, regional vice president for VenuWorks.

He says the company decided “to bring in a person that we had picked so that we could improve the program and the operation.”

Aran Rush is the new general manager for Hartman Arena. Rush most recently was executive director for the Sioux City, Iowa, events facilities department, which included the convention and visitors bureau and the Tyson Events Center. Siehl says Rush is new to VenuWorks.

Hartman says if there are leadership issues at the arena, “I take full responsibility.”

He says he doesn’t think there have been problems with leadership, but he says the arena isn’t where it should be financially.

“The production of events at the arena can significantly increase, and hopefully it will,” Hartman says.

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Intrust Bank Arena assistant general manager takes GM job in Bakersfield, Calif.

WICHITA — Intrust Bank Arena assistant general manager Scott Neal – the longest-serving employee at the arena – is leaving to become general manager of Rabobank Arena, Theater & Convention Center in Bakersfield, Calif.

“It’s kind of the natural process within our company,” says A.J. Boleski, Intrust Bank Arena general manager.

Both arenas are SMG properties.

According to the Bakersfield Californian, the last Rabobank Arena general manager left in September amid a decline in bookings.

Intrust Bank Arena has had its own issues, including being $219,417 in the red through September.

Boleski says that has nothing to do with Neal’s departure.

“He’s done a phenomenal job.”

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SMG hires Bothner and Bradley as Intrust Bank Arena consultants

WICHITA — SMG has hired Bothner and Bradley as consultants at Intrust Bank Arena.

“We’re sort of shifting gears,” says Gary Desjardins, regional general manager for SMG, a private company that runs the arena under a contract with Sedgwick County.

“We’re in between GMs, so part of it is just a process of getting feedback from our different constituencies.”

General manager Chris Presson abruptly resigned two weeks ago, citing personal reasons.

Desjardins says he plans to have Bothner and Bradley collect information to share with a new general manager.

“With our clients, they get an opportunity to talk so far about their experience,” Desjardins says.

“For every aspect of what we do in managing the building . . . there’s always room for improvement,” he says. “There’s never a perfect event.”

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