Ushers on the Job

Before Ushers Arrive:

  • Verify on MyVolunteerPage.com the correct performance and call time, which is typically one hour prior to the performance start time.
  • Come dressed in the usher uniform which includes the following:
    • Solid black dress slacks (no jeans, capris, or denim), a solid buttoned white blouse or Oxford shirt with long sleeves, and the center’s branded sweater vest provided by the center.
    • Shoes should be plain black dress shoes (no sneakers, flip-flops, sandals, or winter snow boots). We suggest shoes that cover and protect your toes. Wear shoes which you can stand in for at least four hours and do a lot of walking.
    • An optional name tag, purchased by the usher at the start of each school year.
    • Ties are optional, and must be appropriate for work.
    • All clothing must be clean and ironed.
    • Avoid accessories such as scarves and large jewelry and any fragrances.

Upon Arrival:

  • The usher locker room is available for storing personal items such as coats, boots, and keys.  Please leave valuables at home.  Lockers are available; however, ushers must provide their own lock. All personal items and locks should be removed following a shift. The center is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
  • Start your time clock in the usher locker room.
  • Put on your sweater vest.
  • Use restroom and get a drink (if needed).
  • Consult placements, which tell ushers their position, and be familiar with the performance briefing, which provides helpful information for the performance or event.
  • Listen to the House Manager’s briefing which provides performance specifics.
  • After the Briefing, the house manager will inform ushers when they can quietly enter the house.

During the Performance:

  • When the house opens, ushers must be at their post and ready. This is not a time to eat, sit, or read. While on duty, ushers should not carry personal property (including handbags, newspapers, books, and laptops) into public spaces of the center unless approved by Guest Services management.
  • Ushers should not consume food or beverages while on the floor. Ushers should refrain from taking food or beverages associated with concessions or receptions unless otherwise noted by house management.  Cinema ushers partaking of complimentary popcorn and soda when working a cinema shift should wait until after the 10-minute late seating period. 
  • While at your post, the house manager is accessible to provide additional information and answer questions.
  • At the 2-minute call from the house manager, one exterior and interior door is closed to signal to patrons that house is closing.
  • At house closing, all doors should be closed in preparation for the performance.  Ushers located in aisles should move to their performance posts, many returning to the back of the house.
  • Ushers should avoid sitting until after the first late-seating opportunity.  Seat options for ushers are at the discretion of the house manager.

Following the Performance:

  • Return to your position in order to answer patron questions or bid patrons farewell.
  • Clear the house at the end of the performance in order to clean up programs, ticket stubs, and general debris.  Ushers should report any lost and found items to the house manager immediately.
  • Help organize programs and surveys in the usher locker room before leaving for the night.
  • Return sweater vests to their correct hanger and location.
  • Return radio and headsets to their corresponding docking station.
  • Stop the shift’s time clock on the usher locker room computer.

General Responsibilities of an Usher: 

  • Ushers are ALWAYS on duty when on the floor.  If you are in the usher uniform, be prepared to answer questions and assist with any patron needs.
  • An usher’s main role is to ensure the safety and satisfaction of patrons.
  • Ushers are responsible for preserving the atmosphere of the performance.  Distractions, light or sound-emitting devices, safety concerns, emergencies, and dissatisfied patrons should be dealt with promptly.
  • Ushers should act upon patron comments/complaints in a prompt and professional manner.
  • Ushers should be able to answer patron questions regarding the center and its events including logistics (i.e. location of the Ticket Office, restrooms, phones, concessions, coat check, etc.), information about the event, general building facts and history, etc.
  • Ushers must become familiar with the facility and actively participate in all of its emergency procedures.
  • When indicating a location, ushers should gesture, not point.
  • Ushers should contact a house manager with questions, concerns, or issues.

USHER POSITIONS:

Greeter 

  • Positioned inside the center’s main doors, approximately 20 feet inside the lobby to allow patrons to enter the doors before you greet them.
  • Ready with a smile and friendly greeting, as it may be a patron’s first and lasting impression.
  • As often as possible, greet patrons with the phrase, “Welcome to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center!”
  • Direct patrons to the appropriate venue, concessions, Ticket Office, rest rooms, ATM, or complimentary coat check.  Familiarize yourself with specific venues and corresponding doors.
  • Make sure you know details about upcoming performances or how to get details about upcoming performances in case someone asks you for information.
  • Once the performance begins, be ready to assist with late seating by greeting those who arrive late, and pointing them to the correct venue.  Once late seating is complete, the greeter can move inside the venue to assist in keeping a watchful eye on the audience.
  • Return to your position at intermission and at the end of the performance.

Ticket Scanner 

  • Positioned at the outer doors of each venue.
  • When getting into position, carefully and slowly open venue doors.
  • Be courteous, greet patrons with a smile, and welcome them.
  • Check the ticket to ensure:
    • Right Venue?
    • Right Door of the venue?
    • Right Performance (date and time)?
  • Ensure that all patrons, including babes in arms, have tickets prior to entering the venue.
  • Scan the ticket. If the ticket will not scan, tear the ticket stub, keep the smaller portion, and give the larger portion back to the patron. If you encounter any problems scanning a ticket please let the House Manager or Student House Manager know and one of us will come help.
  • Ensure that no food or drink, other than bottled water (or a closed container that can be identified as having water inside) enter the venue.  Note that the Browning Cinema is the only exception.
  • Assist house management with opening and closing outer venue doors, both at house open, curtain, late seating, intermission, and house close.
  • Return to assigned posts at intermission and post-performance.
  • Once performance begins, always be ready to “catch” closing doors so that they do not slam shut.

Program Usher 

  • Positioned inside each venue door.
  • Direct patrons to seats or to the appropriate staff member for further seating.
  • Distribute and maintain a supply of programs. Almost all shows have a program and certain shows will have a large print program provided. Please only give the large print programs to patrons who ask for them, unless of course we’re out of regular programs.
  • Prop open the inner venue doors when directed.
  • Ensure that no food or drink other than bottled water (or a closed container that can be identified as having water inside) enters the venue.
  • Observe the house during performances and events, reporting instances such as flash photography, loud talking, disruptive behavior, etc.
  • Remain standing near the inner doors in order to assist patrons who leave or enter mid-performance and prevent doors from causing a disturbance.
  • In case of an emergency, lead patrons safely out of the venue.
  • Open the doors at intermission or the end of the performance when the house lights go up.
  • At the conclusion of the performance, collect program boxes and return them to usher locker room.

Inside Usher (Stair, Orchestra, Stage)

  • Guide patrons to the correct seat within the venue.
  • Direct patrons to seats or to the appropriate staff member for further seating.
  • Ensure that no food or drink other than bottled water enters the venue.
  • Observe the house during performances and events, reporting instances such as flash photography, loud talking, disruptive behavior, etc.
  • In case of an emergency, lead patrons safely out of the venue.
  • Remain standing near the inner doors or sitting in the designated locations (assigned by HM) in order to assist patrons
  • If asked, act as a stage monitor before, during, after a performance, ensuring that patrons are not going onstage or backstage. Ushers assigned to this duty should be polite but firm. House management will provide event-specific instructions for this post.
  • During intermission and post-performance, return to assigned posts to assist patrons.

Coat Check

  • Collect, store, and return items dropped off by patrons.
  • Provide patrons with coat check numbered tag, keeping the other numbered tag with checked item and the hanger that also has the number marked on it.
  • Answer patron questions regarding venue facilities and event details.
  • Inform house management of any security, medical, or other problems.
  • In case of emergency evacuation, close coat check immediately so patrons don’t try to get their coats before evacuating. Priority is to get patrons out quickly and safely.
  • Help assist House Manager or Student House Manager with additional patron services as required, i.e. getting a wheelchair or Assistive Listening Device if needed.
  • Keep coat check clean and organized at all times.
  • Please return to coat check at intermission as well as at end of the show.
  • Restore coat check area at end of shift by organizing docent materials and re-organizing and re-tagging hangers as necessary.

Docent

  • Demonstrate general venue and building knowledge.
  • Work a two-hour shift, from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, Monday-Friday.
  • Greet, guide, and answer questions posed by visitors.
  • Provide tours on a first-come, first-serve basis by walking through open venues and relaying key facts.
  • Lock all venue doors and turn off lights upon exiting.
  • Log tours upon signing out of shift.
  • Use Guest Services issued keys.
  • Be familiar with upcoming events and performances.
  • Assist with tasks provided by the Guest Services Department, which may include folding or stuffing upcoming programs.
  • Organize docent materials including Exposition, campus maps, and other publications.

Student Snow Removal 

  • A seasonal position which students are assigned; however, on the day of the shift will be contacted by a house manager to confirm the shift or be scheduled to usher instead.
  • Dressed in appropriate winter apparel, tasks include shoveling and salting the center’s pathways.

Student Concessions

  • Student concessions worker will run concessions, both main floor and cinema, for certain performances, screenings, and select special events.
  • Prepare the concessions and keep the area clean and presentable.
  • Manage inventory, sell product, and handle money.

Student House Manager

  • Prepare the lobby for performance night by following the provided checklist and any additional needs of the house manager.
  • Coordinate the start of performance and intermission with the Stage Manager.
  • Work with staff and house management to coordinate doors opening and closing, late seating, lobby signals, and patron needs.
  • Work with house management to complete reports as needed.
  • Coordinate locking and unlocking of venue doors.
  • Move in and out of the venues intermittently to check the attendance status of the house.
  • Ensure that the performance will start on time, and that all issues are handled efficiently and effectively under the direction of house management.
  • Bring extra programs to appropriate staff when needed.
  • Straighten the usher locker room, remove placements and briefings from the bulletin board, and ensure that all radios and scanners are properly docked.
  • Complete/facilitate any post-performance strike or restoration.
  • Stay until dismissed by the house manager.

Student Runner

  • Stationed at the cross section of the main lobby and the restroom wings.
  • Acts as the “go-to” person for most issues in the lobby.
  • Welcome and accommodate the needs of ADA patrons.
  • Assist the House Manager and Student House Manager.
  • Assist coat check staff when needed.
  • Assist with flashing lights to indicate the start of the performance either pre-performance or during intermission.
  • Responsible for carrying both light and chairlift keys.

Cinema Ushering

Cinema screenings are very similar to live performances, but in the absence of a house manager, ushers have a few different expectations:

  • Ushers have a call time of 45 minutes prior to a screening vs. the 60 minutes of a performance.
  • Upon arrival, start your clock in the projectionist’s booth inside Door E of the cinema using the iPad provided.
  • Grab an usher locker room key. Because cinema ushers never know whether the locker room is unlocked for other performances downstairs to retrieve sweater vests, this key will gain you access into the locker room….but don’t forget to bring it back!
  • Decide the position you will be working with the projectionist on duty: Kevin or Chris.
  • Since the scanner emits light and makes noise, they should not be used inside the Browning. Re-dock scanner since ushers will only tear ticket stubs for the remainder of the screening.  Give the stubs to your projectionist following the screening.
  • During a screening, cinema ushers watch for late patrons to tear their ticket stubs, monitor and subdue any unacceptable behavior of patrons, and keep the aisles & back of the venue clear of patrons. (Remember that no one is allowed to sit on the stairs!)
  • While on duty if you need to speak to the projectionist about an issue, please keep conversation to a whisper while a screening is going on because the projectionist’s booth is not completely sound proof.
  • One usher per cinema shift (please decide before the screening who is to do it) will walk up and down a side aisle just once during the screening. This is in order to help deter any cell phone usage or talking by letting the audience know there is someone there monitoring.
  • At many screenings there is a Pre or Post Talk that is part of your shift. The projectionist will inform you if there will be one for the screening. For a Post Talk please stay for the duration of the talk.
  • Most cinema shifts with the exception of MET Operas are general admission. Please make sure that for non-MET Opera shifts that the ADA signs are out on the designated ADA chairs. These seats are the free standing chairs in Row N1-4 as well as Row A1 and A14 and Row B1 and B15.
  • Following the screening, all ushers pick up the larger trash items during a “sweep” of the house. Popcorn spills will typically be cleaned up by housekeeping.
  • Repeat the process of grabbing a locker room key, return your sweater vest to the locker room, and head back to the projectionist’s booth to stop your clock.

Cinema Usher Position

Cinema Greeter

  • Positioned inside the center’s main doors.
  • Direct patrons to the appropriate location.
  • Keep the Ticket Office line from blocking the main entrance.
  • Remain in position for a minimum of 10 minutes after the screening begins.

Door E or F Ticket Scanner

  • Positioned at the outer doors.
  • Check the ticket to ensure that each patron enters the correct venue, door, and performance (date and time).
  • Scan the ticket. If the ticket will not scan, tear the ticket stub, keep the smaller portion, and give the larger portion back to the patron.
  • Remain scanning tickets until 10 minutes after the screening begins.
  • Tear ticket stubs while inside the venue then give stubs to the projectionist on duty following the screening.

Inside Attendant

  • Assist patrons entering the venue.
  • Encourage patrons to use the handrail on the stairs.
  • Wait in the back of the venue 10 minutes after the screening has begun then sit in the lowest seats of the cinema in order to be the evacuation usher in the event of an emergency.
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One thought on “Ushers on the Job

  1. Pingback: TIP OF THE WEEK: Cinema Ushering | Guest Services Department

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