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ISSUE 121 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 11/2/2007

Concert budget weighed

By Lauren Melcher
Staff Writer

Friday, November 2, 2007

Due to the approximately $40,000 price tag on St. Olaf's annual fall concert in Skoglund, hall senators and Pause coordinators are currently re-evaluating concert logistics.

At a meeting of residence hall senators last Wednesday, Lion's Pause co-coordinators Justin Heebsh '08 and John Snetting '08 announced they are seeking student feedback about the Fall Concert and other Pause events to help in this evaluating

"We want to know whether students think this is a good use of our money," Heebsh said, "or is it a time for change?"

In an effort to make their procedures more transparent to the student body, the Pause has released their Fall Concert budget for the first time. About 45 percent of the Pause's annual programming budget for the Mane Stage goes to covering costs of the Fall Concert.

The Ben Kweller and Mason Jennings concert on Oct. 6 cost the Pause $42,864 (including booking fees, sound and lighting equipment in Skoglund, as well as outside security staff).

Ticket sales amounted to only $11,348, leaving the Pause to cover $31,515 with their own funds. "Ticket sales don't exactly come close to the cost of the concert," Hebash said.

The Pause is funded in part by the Student Government Association general budget, which gets much of its $500,000 budget from the $150 Campus Activities and Program fee paid by every St. Olaf student each year. The Pause receives about $98,000 per year, $70,000 of which they devote to programming (concerts, comedians, etc.)

The Pause also gets revenue from the student-run kitchen, which last year exceeded $26,000. Any revenue over $30,000 goes back into the SGA general fund, according to bylaws between SGA and the Pause.

Heebsh and Snetting approached the hall senators in order to hear from as many students as possible in ways other than online surveys or tabling outside Stav Hall. The senators are collecting feedback from students until the group's next meeting on Nov. 14; the Pause is offering prizes for the halls with the most responses.

"We don't want this to turn into 'who should come to play at Fall Concert,'" Heebsh said, even though students are welcome to suggest artists at any time during the year. "We're more concerned about what students think about the style of the event," Heebsh said.

The Pause traditionally produces the Fall Concert in October and Lutefest in May, with a variety of concerts on the Mane Stage throughout the school year. Lutefest is free and usually happens outdoors (weather permitting,) but Fall Concert is a ticketed event that has traditionally been held in Skoglund.

"The intention was that this event be open to any St. Olaf student who wishes to attend," explained SGA Vice-President Ishanaa Ramabachan during the meeting. However, in the past three years, the Pause has only sold about 1,000 tickets to the Fall Concert.

Sarah Wallis '08, Pause programming director, has only about $30,000 to spend on programming for the rest of the year after the costs of the Fall Concert.

One possibility is to move the concert from Skoglund to the Pause Mane Stage. Currently, the Pause has a capacity of 920 people, but this is undergoing re-evaluation, "and we're hoping that number will increase a little bit," according to Heebsh.

Such a move would save costs on lighting, sound equipment and security in Skoglund, as well as potentially on the band itself – or make it easier for the Pause to book artists that students request.

"When we have the concert in Skoglund, we have to book the date a year in advance," Heebsh said. "Then, we only have one date to offer to potential performers. A lot of bands tour during the summer, and it is sometimes hard to get them for a single date in the early fall at a price that fits our budget."

If the Fall Concert were held in the Pause, many of the restrictions on time and space the staff usually faces would no longer exist. Instead, the Pause would have to decide whether or not to sell tickets (which they usually do not do) and would likely have to close the event to the public.

Other ideas include holding two smaller concerts in the fall instead of one big concert or devoting more of the Pause's budget to booking acts for Lutefest.

"Are students not willing to pay for tickets in Skoglund? Is the time of the year the problem? This is the kind of feedback we want from students," Heebsh said.

Students can contact their hall senators until Nov. 14, or email Heebsh or Snetting directly with their ideas and comments.

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