Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Linda Eaton sent out a campus-wide email on behalf of the Student Association Productions (SAP) on Thursday, Nov. 13 which included the 2015 Spring Concert survey.
The concert is hosted by the Student Association Productions, a group of 10 students who are in charge of bringing the annual event to the SUNY New Paltz campus.
SAP has an annual budget of $80,000 to put on the event. Choices are made based off of price, availability and other determining factors. With funds going towards factors such as production, stage set up in Elting Gym, security, marketing, t-shirts, hospitality food and other expenses, only $40,000 is allocated toward paying the entertainers. Each artist on the ballot costs no more than $20,000, Student Association (SA) Vice President of Programming Goldie Harrison, said.
“What the students want is to see more diversity on the stage,” she said. “This led me to think about a music festival theme, where there are a bunch of different genres all in one night, all on one stage, which is hard to do with only $40,000. That’s the reason why we chose artists that are around $20,000 that are known. They’re not completely on the radio every day, but they are known. The ones who are on the radio every day cost $80,000 to $100,000.”
Harrison said her goal for this year is to have multiple genres take the stage during the night of the concert, which will occur during the weekend of Friday, April 24 to Sunday, April 26.
“Every school has that one event that everyone looks forward to,” she said. “I really want students to get the chance to experience different cultures all in one night. Instead of the typical hip-hop and R&B the last few years and I know the students are sick of it. It’s a very diverse campus and I know we want to hear something different. That’s what I want to do, I want to give the students what they want, ultimately.”
This year’s survey has 12 options, compared to last year’s six. Harrison said she added an open comment section on the survey and responds to every one. In addition, she plans on releasing the survey data for transparency purposes along with an explanation about it when the new SA website is launched after winter break.
Director of Student Activities Mike Patterson said communication between SAP and students is a key factor in the satisfaction of the greatest number for all involved while going through the survey process. Patterson said his department provides advisement to the SAP group every year. His group reviews the survey before it is released. The survey from SAP writes the questions to get the best feedback and input from students so it is not misconstrued. Groups have been sensitive to that over the last few years, he said.
In years past, some SAP groups have put on a festival with two or three modest-level known performers while some groups have put all of their money into getting one elite performer with the most recognition and name appeal, Patterson said. However, the number one performer choice students vote on may not go through for a variety of reasons such as a mutual date agreement, conflicting tour schedule or a release of a new record and the price of their presence increasing.
Harrison said SAP is trying to stretch the budget as much as they can. The group is trying to consider if the Elting Gym allows time availability to have student bands and artists open up.
“There’s a lot of talent in New Paltz,” she said. “We should definitely take advantage of it and give these students an opportunity of a lifetime to open up for a high-caliber artist.”
Patterson said there are always questions brought up in regards to what entertainers other SUNY schools are bringing in and why SUNY New Paltz cannot afford them specifically. He said he believes SAP can depending how they use their funds. SAP’s budget is not much different than any of the other SUNY schools, he said.
“I think some groups have struggled with being able to really present the most mainstream entertainment that has the broadest appeal,” he said. “It’s really hard to do a mainstream musical act that everybody’s going to like. That’s a tough thing. That’s the biggest challenge a group has every year.”
Harrison said she is going to request more money for Spring Fest next year. She said SAP is allowed to request more funds, but has never taken advantage of it.
“We’ve always complained that we can’t afford any good artists,” she said. “We’re not so limited. We are requesting more funds basically so we can throw a better concert and I hope they understand that. People think we can just make it work. We want to make the students happy. That’s my goal — to make the students happy. That’s what I thrive off of. I can’t make them happy with $40,000. There’s nothing we can do with $40,000.”
Patterson said music is an individualized and personalized topic which has such personal appeal to people that finding a common performance genre is virtually impossible.
“I think students can sometimes draw lines in the sand regarding entertainment and who the artist is, and the genre it is,” he said. “I think it’s just as much about the student experience as it is about who it is. It can be a really, really big challenge for that body to sort of hone in on something. It’ll be interesting to see where things land.”