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Petra Honored by Interchange
March 27, 2006

It was almost a year ago that Petra: Lost City of Stone opened at Calvin College for a four and a half month run in the Prince Conference Center.

Now, the co-chairs of the Petra steering committee are being honored for their work in leading a team of Calvin employees who promoted Petra far and wide.

Petra Co-ChairsInterchange, an association of West Michigan communication professionals, will honor Calvin president Gaylen Byker and Calvin director of the January Series June Hamersma (right) as its Communicators of the Year at the April 2006 annual awards ceremony.

Says Interchange director of communication Kelly Campbell: "In a yearly ceremony, Interchanges recognizes community leaders who have demonstrated outstanding communication efforts. This year's honorees, Gaylen Byker and June Hamersma, were responsible for promoting Petra: Lost City of Stone throughout Grand Rapids and beyond. They brought statewide attention to this exhibition, a world-class event which visited only three cities in the United States."

For her part Hamersma is quick to deflect attention to the entire team which worked on the event.

"This award is really an award for those who served patiently and endlessly on the steering committee," she says, "those who worked tirelessly on this project in addition to all of their regular work at Calvin because they believed in the project and wanted to see Petra succeed. The steering committee included staff from many different departments at Calvin - everyone from the physical plant folks and art department to the January Series, President's office and more. Their incredible dedication, along with the staff at the Prince Conference Center, made Petra the enormous success it was. My dream would be to have the names of each one of them engraved on a gold plaque someplace."

Over the 19-week, 115-day run of the Petra exhibition a total of 63,808 tickets were sold for the show. That includes tickets purchased just for the exhibition as well as exhibition tickets purchased as part of special events such as the Taste of the Mediterranean and Mezze and Music events, the Family Festival and the Petra Grande Finale.

The final number just tops the 62,203 people who saw Petra during its 20-week run at the Cincinnati Art Museum from September 14, 2004 to January 30, 2005.

"By just the final attendance number we can consider Petra a marvelous success," says Hamersma. "But more important than simply the final number is the way the people who attended felt about the exhibition. Our visitor surveys showed that people were overwhelmingly positive about the experience. We said all along that Petra was Calvin's gift to the community. To have that gift received and appreciated is very gratifying to all of us at Calvin who worked so hard on the project."

The Calvin team will be honored by Interchange on Wednesday, April 12 at the Press Club of Grand Rapids where the evening will include a reception at 5:30 pm, followed by a 6 pm dinner and short presentation by Hamersma and Byker.