Concert funding raises concerns

The homecoming concert on Saturday night, which was supposed to feature the step team Sankofa, the a cappella group Prizm and the recording artist Rakim ended without Rakim ever performing.

According to Yolanda Rucker, the student activities intern at the Dean’s Office, Rakim and his staff were supposed to arrive in Williamstown by 5 p.m. and do a 6 p.m. sound check. But Rakim didn’t arrive until 10:15 p.m., which was 20 minutes after the MC announced that the concert was cancelled. Rucker said Rakim claims to have had a miscommunication with his promotions person as to when the concert was supposed to begin.

“(Rakim) was under the impression that the concert started at 9 p.m. and thought he would still make it in time to get on stage,” Rucker said. “He was very apologetic and would like to come back very soon to do his performance.”

Rakim was scheduled to take the stage after the rap group EMS.

Marc Shotland ’99, the co-president of the Housing Committee, said, “The idea of having Prizm first and then Sankofa and then EMS and then Rakim was that the concert would progress. I feel sorry for the opening acts because the show was perceived as a failure — and it was.”

Rucker said Rakim made an appearance at an after concert party held in Currier ballroom, expressed his apologies, and then left.

Rucker said, “I think the basic idea is that he didn’t read the time on his contract (he signed his own contract with the the time of the show printed on it); he was running late; and he was under the impression that he would make it in time since it was homecoming night—not realizing that it was the parties that went on all night and not the concert.”

It is still uncertain whether or not Rakim will come back to Williams to perform. “Rakim really wants to come back,” Shotland said. “He felt as though he let a lot of people down. But there is not a single person that I know that would want to promote a show where he would come back. It’s difficult to bring hip hop acts to Williams and concerts in general for that matter. And this doesn’t help matters.”

Rakim was not paid for the concert, according to Shotland. “None of our accounts were charged,” he said. “There were a few basics — lighting and things like that — that the Dean’s Office will absorb. Some frosh entries paid money as well and we’re not sure how we will pay them pack, but we’re looking into that now,” he said.

Questions of funding

Although many of the issues related to the funding of the concert are now irrelevant, there was concern in the planning stages over the fairness of joint funding for events at Williams.

Cooperation between the Housing Committee, the Black Student Union (BSU), the Student Activities’ Committee (SAC), and the Dean’s Office made the concert plans possible, yet some members of the Housing Committee would have liked to see SAC, with a larger budget, agree to fund more of the concert.

Dave Golden ’01, the president of Agard House, commented that it was inappropriate for small, relatively poor groups to be expected to fund such a large student event. “It’s kind of silly that groups with tight budgets and other things to do had to pay for what SAC should be doing,” he said.

The funding was initially intended to be a collaboration between a number of groups. The BSU financed the after-concert party, and the Dean’s Office initially contributed $6000 toward the concert. The Housing Committee and SAC each gave $2000 toward financing it. Yet Golden commented that the Housing Committee’s overall budget is $6000 while SAC has $72,000 at its disposal.

The Housing Committee became involved with the concert when Shotland started working to bring a hip-hop band to Williams last spring. T.J. Conteh ’00 and the Black Student Union were also seeking hip-hop entertainment. Both consulted Rucker.

“What ended up happening is that T.J. approached me and asked if we could collaborate,” said Shotland. Conteh and Shotland then began arranging the concert and seeking funding from other campus groups.

According to Shotland, the Housing Committee eventually chose to commit a large portion of its money to the concert. “The Housing Committee was getting bad PR from the Dean’s Office and last year’s SAC on what we spend money on,” Shotland explained. “We decided we needed an all-campus event. Putting money into this became a priority.”

Golden and others on the Housing Committee believe that SAC should also have made the concert a priority by contributing more money to it. Golden cited SAC’s larger budget and discounted their other expenses.

Golden also argued that by not contributing more to the concert, SAC failed to meet student demand.

“My general opinion is that SAC for the past two years has been under great pressure from the student body to get a great act, and they haven’t produced,” Golden said. “Whether or not it’s [SAC’s] number one priority, it’s the number one priority of the students.”

By not agreeing to finance the concert more fully, Golden argued, SAC members indicated that “they had their own agenda, which seems silly to me.”

SAC President Kevin Bolduc ’99 responded that SAC gave as much as it could afford. “SAC does have most of our money budgeted out for the year, especially for the other concerts we’ve already partially funded,” Bolduc said.

Bolduc mentioned SAC’s regular commitments, like movies and Currier Club. “Two thousand dollars is the maximum we could give out without crippling ourselves for the spring,” he said. “They asked us for essentially what we gave them.”

Nelson Hioe ’00, a junior advisor from Morgan East, agreed with Golden that the house presidents shouldn’t have been exptected to contribute so much.

“I was made aware that SAC’s budget was $72,000 and SAC wanted us to contribute as much even though our budget is only $6,000,” he said. He noted that the house presidents had to pay $2,000, a third of their budget, while SAC also paid $2,000, a much smaller percentage of their budget.

Bolduc explained that SAC was also hesitant about funding another homecoming event. “We had some reservations about doing it on homecoming night,” Bolduc said. “We wished it were on another night, when there weren’t so many options.”

Bolduc also indicated reservations about the concert’s appeal. “One of our reservations is that there’s not a huge love of this kind of music on campus,” Bolduc said. “No one on SAC had really heard of them before.”

According to Shotland, approximately 400 people came to the concert.

Yet Bolduc argued that SAC could not have afforded to pay more even if the artist were better known. “Had it been a bigger name, I don’t think we could give much more money, because we don’t have that much more to give out,” Bolduc said.

Shotland said the Housing Committee ultimately accepted SAC’s reasoning. “The way I feel about it is they’ve already budgeted most of their money. I was very happy with SAC’s equal funding of the concert,” he said.

Shotland commented that he did not expect complete funding from SAC because BSU and the Housing Committee organized the event. “Certain members of the Housing Committee were upset that they didn’t give more money, but I don’t think they understand the way funding is done,” he said.

Housing Committee member Kenny Becker ’99 acknowledged the complexities of SAC’s position and agreed with Shotla
nd. “Seventy two thousand is a lot, but when you break it down, it doesn’t go very far,” Becker said. “I’m sure maybe next year SAC would budget a little more.”

In the end, the person who facilitated the organization of the concert, Yolanda Rucker, felt that the funding worked out well. Before the Rakim portion of the concert was cancelled, Rucker noted, “It’s not SAC’s concert. They weren’t in on the initial planning of it. They do have a larger budget than the other two groups, but they had already budgeted that out for the regular events like movies and Currier Club.”

Despite the mixed feelings that the joint-funding for the event caused, Bolduc said he likes the trend of co-funding events. “In general, the process is exciting, because there was collaboration from so many groups,” Bolduc said. “The more collaboration that goes on, the more of a student base that will be involved,” he said, explaining that students who organize events tend to attend them and encourage their friends to attend them.

“Getting the two of us [SAC and the Housing Committee] to work together is a good direction for the campus,” Bolduc added.