Events Coordinator Jeff Chen Schedules, Attends Center for the Arts Performances

Posted 07/11/07
Q: Jeff, when did you come to Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts?

A: I started my work as the CFA’s events coordinator in the fall of 2005.

Q: What is your role as an events coordinator?

A: As events coordinator, my primary job is to help the Center for the Arts in planning the logistics and details of bringing high-caliber visiting artists and performing ensembles to Wesleyan, after they have been contracted. In this role, I help to make sure that our visiting performers have everything they need, so they can focus fully on their performances and residency activities with the Wesleyan students and community. Barbara Ally and I manage the CFA Events Student Staff of 30-plus students, maintain the scheduling system for the CFA buildings and rooms, and help to oversee the events.

Q: How many performances does the CFA put on, and who attends?

A: The CFA is responsible for the programming and management of nearly 400 events annually for our audience of faculty and staff, students and community members.

Q: How do you advise a group to choose one space over another?

A: Barbara Ally and I like to meet with the groups that present programs in our spaces, so that we have a chance to talk through their needs and expectations in order to help them produce the best show possible. Generally, we look at performance needs. Are they a large dance group that requires a lot of room or are they a small jazz combo that could perform in a small, intimate setting? We consider their potential audience size, availability of venue, number of other performances happening on campus, and, of course, the preferences of the performing group. We have found that meeting with these groups in their planning stages helps immensely, and gives them a chance to learn more about how to put-on and organize a successful performance.

Q: If a group wants to reserve a space, how many weeks in advance must they do so?

A: A group looking to reserve performance space at the Center for the Arts should contact the CFA Events Office at 860-685-2687 at least 6 weeks prior to the performance date. For more questions about how to reserve a space, please contact us via phone or e-mail at

Q: What else goes into planning events at the CFA?

A: There’s a lot that goes into planning the events at Wesleyan, and often involves the entire staff of the Center for the Arts. The CFA’s mission is to present the highest caliber of visiting artists who serve to extend and enhance Wesleyan’s curriculum through public performances, exhibitions and residency activities with Wesleyan students. We work collaboratively with both the academic arts departments and community at large in order to focus on our programming on work that is of the highest caliber, innovative and global in scope.

Q: Do you attend all the events you coordinate? Do you get to watch them or are you busy working?

A: I do attend most of the events that we coordinate at the CFA. I do get to watch the performances, but often, there are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that requires me to be backstage or in another part of the venue.

Q: What goes on during your day?

A: My job is really split into two positions. During the day, I’m often in the office, doing all the logistical planning of the events, talking with the artists and agencies, as well as our service providers and in-house staffs. On performance evenings, however, I also act as the general manager of our venues, and I’m on-site at the events, overseeing the performances, and our student events staff.

Q: Do you have a personal interest in the arts? If so, what type of arts?

A: I have a deep, personal interest in the arts, as I’m an active musician and artist myself. I am also an advocate for arts awareness, and I believe strongly in the importance of developing and supporting local arts education.

Q: Where did you attend college and what did you major in? What led you to work at Wesleyan?

A: I completed my bachelor’s degree in music and my master’s in business administration at the University of Connecticut. I was drawn to Wesleyan because of its reputation for presenting high-caliber performances with an emphasis on bringing in innovative artists who are challenging and changing the way everybody thinks about the arts.

Q: What do you favor most about working at Wesleyan?

A: I love being at Wesleyan! It’s a fantastic school, and I’m honored to be a part of the Center for the Arts staff. Even though the job sometimes has long hours, last minute emergencies, and a lot of hard work that the audience never sees, it’s a great job and after the performances are over, the artists have gone off to the next stop on their tour, and the audiences have gone home, we’re eager to start planning the next big performance.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I’m an active musician still, and I play electric cello in a progressive rock band called The Cargo Cult Revival. We’ve been touring off and on, and we’re hard at work on our second self-produced album. I also like to cook, read, write, make jewelry, and play video games in my spare time. I’m happily married to my wife, Colleen, and we have a wonderful cat, Steve-O, who graciously lets us live with him.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor