Leadership / 12.07.22
INTIX Vet Noll Looks Back on Her Career and Forward to the Careers of Her Daughters
“I’ve served INTIX in many ways over the years.”
Those words, uttered by Tracy Rae Noll, may be the understatement of the year. Currently the Sales and Development Services Director for Penn State University’s Center for the Performing Arts, Noll’s ties with the International Ticketing Association go back nearly 30 years. She has attended every annual BOMI/INTIX conference since the first one held in New Orleans in 1993, along with eight summer conferences. She represented INTIX at the Europe Talks Tickets conference in Amsterdam back in 2007. She was the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Ticketing Professional honor and the 2011 Spirit Award. She has served as both a speaker and moderator at several INTIX conferences and was an INTIX board member from January 2003 to January 2006.
She was also on the host committee for the Philadelphia INTIX conference in 2004 and chaired the sponsorship committee. “I drove three hours each way to attend the monthly meeting held in Philadelphia for the year leading up to the conference!” she says. And, of course, Noll was Chair-Elect of INTIX in 2007, Chair in 2008 and 2009, and Past Chair in 2010. Currently, she is a member of the INTIX Stewardship Society and the INTIX Technology Townhall. “Though we haven’t met since the pandemic hit,” she says.
Looking back on it all, Noll says, “In 1993, when our business manager left his position, I was given the opportunity to attend my first BOMI, now INTIX, conference. I have to say, that was a life-changing moment for me. Not only did I learn so much from the educational content, but I built lifelong relationships with colleagues in the industry. I haven’t missed a conference since then, and my network of friends has continued to grow every year. I’m not sure I would have stayed in this industry if it wasn’t for this great resource.”
As for her current job in the industry, Noll’s duties are many. Her primary responsibility is to oversee the finance operations and fiscal stability of the Center for the Performing Arts through strategic planning, reporting and daily financial transactions. The position oversees the operation of the sales department, which includes the Arts Ticket Center, group sales, donation processing and reporting, and ad sales.
“The Arts Ticket Center offers ticketing services for the Center for the Performing Arts, the School of Theatre, the School of Music, student groups, community organizations and promoter events,” she says. “Additionally, the role serves as the center's human resources representative to the College of Arts & Architecture human resources office, in coordination with Penn State's Office of Human Resources.”
Noll has been at Penn State for more than two decades. What has kept her on campus? “I love the fact that every day is different!” she says. “I really enjoy crunching numbers and analyzing data, sales trends, etc. But my days don’t end there. This week alone, we hosted a School Time Matinee where multiple schools got to watch and learn from a performance of the Soweto Gospel Choir. I then attended a luncheon with our donors and members of the Soweto Gospel Choir. The choral member at my table had been with the group for 18 years, and he explained his struggles growing up in South Africa. We strive to provide opportunities for our patrons to engage with the artists, which goes way beyond just sitting in the auditorium to hear a performance.”
But the job is not without its share of challenges, even hardships. Chief among them is finding good part-time employees, especially in these post-pandemic times. “Heck, it’s challenging to even find full-time staff!” she says. “We have increased our hourly wage to try to attract more qualified staff, but it’s still a struggle. Many of our staff are Penn State students and, unfortunately, we are not their priority. They often have to call out to take a test, complete a project or meet with an advisor.”
Nevertheless, Noll is heartened by the number of young women who are entering the ticketing and live events space. As a career, it has certainly been rewarding for her, and there are even more opportunities for those new to the field. “Those of us who have been in this business for many years have always joked that we would never let our kids follow in our footsteps,” she says. “But I obviously made my job look way too glamorous! I have two daughters — 26 and 22 years old — who have both decided to get into the ticketing business. My oldest daughter, Taylor, works for the Blumenthal Performing Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina. My other daughter, Morgan, is working at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State while she gets her degree in arena management.”
She says, “My advice would be to take chances while you’re young and before you start a family. There are so many job opportunities in this industry right now. Look at what’s out there, and go for it. Find an exciting city to live in or a job you are truly passionate about. Get as much as experience as you can so that when you are ready to settle down in your forever job, you have the qualifications that will push you to the top of the list of candidates.”
And once entrenched, she says, you will accumulate so many wonderful stories that you’ll be able to tell at cocktail parties, family get-togethers and other gatherings. One of her favorites? “It involved the Goo Goo Dolls. It was the day of their concert in our auditorium, and I was heading out the back door past the stars’ dressing room area that afternoon. I encountered a rather short man dressed in a black sweatshirt and black jeans, who I assumed was part of the event crew setting up the stage. I chatted with him for several minutes and then left the building to gather my family and friends, who were coming to the show with me. That night when the curtain went up, I just about fell over. When I think of the Goo Goo Dolls, I always picture the lead singer, John Rzeznik, who tends to stand out in a crowd. I guess I never really paid attention to the other half of the group, Robby Takac. If I had, perhaps I would have realized that was who I had a lovely conversation with earlier that day!”
She indeed has many reasons to look back. But Noll’s job requires her to always be looking forward. We had the benefit of sitting down with her in the last month of 2022, with a new year dawning in front of us. And the question was posed: “Are you generally optimistic, pessimistic or mixed about 2023 with regards to live events and, well, life in general, and why?
Her reply: “I’d have to say I have mixed feelings in regards to live events. We present a wide variety of arts performances, and most of them have had low attendance. If they are lesser-known artists or a more adventurous program, people don’t seem as willing to take a risk as they had been in the past. If it is someone or a show that is extremely popular, they seem to be willing to mortgage their house to buy a ticket.”
She concluded, “As one of the poor souls who tried to acquire Taylor Swift tickets for my daughter and her best friend, I am an extreme pessimist when it comes to the ticket-buying process. I really miss the days when ticket buyers could camp out to get the best seats. Now, we are fighting technology and the secondary market for access. I was in the queue for four hours and once I finally got through to purchase the tickets, the system booted me out and the queue started over with more than 25,000 people ahead of me. Needless to say, we didn’t get tickets. It’s a constant struggle to make sure tickets get into the hands of actual fans. If you have unlimited funds, you can get tickets to just about anything you want. But that leaves most of the true fans without tickets.”
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Tags: Leadership , Career