Concert planning 101

The Williams community has a bit of an embarrassing tendency to forget things if they aren’t written down. Sometimes, things get forgotten even if they are written down. Specifically, the details surrounding all-campus concerts fall victim to this more often than not. Perceptions of events shift as those who lived through them graduate. Things get confabulated. Things get misconstrued. In addition to this, there are some details that are never even known enough to forget, such as the inner workings of a concert production. This year, the All-Campus Entertainment Concerts Committee (ACE Concerts) will provide the student body with an unparalleled amount of information so that the campus can provide ACE Concerts with unparalleled input into what it wants out of its concerts.

To do so, ACE Concerts has a couple of options and is choosing to exercise all of them. If you haven’t already seen them, pamphlets with a picture of Kanye West and a copious amount of information regarding the concerts process were distributed around campus. Any further questions related to the process can be asked of board members via e-mail. And finally, if the cost of a performer is in question, an interested party can visit the Concert Ideas website for a quoted talent price. Students need to be informed – and inform themselves – so that ACE Concerts can give the campus performances that live up to accurate expectations, not expectations built on rumor and guesswork.

Without your input, there are no more concerts. Why spend money on something the campus doesn’t want? This should be fairly persuasive to any Eph who doesn’t want to spend future concert nights sullenly watching Saturday Night Live. Even if you don’t attend concerts, you still have a responsibility to provide input, as the money put toward acquiring concert acts could be used for other investments affecting you. Seniors are not exempt either, since ACE Concerts will also apply for Spring Fling funds later this year using this survey information.

Our survey will ask questions that likely haven’t been asked before, like: “Should we even have concerts at Williams?” or “What is an appropriate amount of money to spend on an artist?” ACE Concerts absolutely want to know what genres the campus most wants, but surveys will not be able to directly list performers due to the stickiness of Massachusetts commonwealth law on the creation of informal contracts. The point of surveying the campus after giving you a veritable smorgasbord of information is to streamline the concert production process by removing some of the ambiguity in assessing the desires of the campus and also increase accessibility to student input into the process itself. This was not done under the previous structure and partially contributed to the drastic reduction in ACE Concerts’ budget this year. If the campus wants a large concert budget for subsequent years, it needs to make its voice heard.

Some of you are likely aware of this reduction, but for the uninitiated: ACE Concerts cut about 75 percent of its $80,000 concert budget this year. However, this reduction is not novel. ACE Concerts’ larger budget (which allotted $80,000 for concerts) was introduced as part of a two-year experimental initiative. The change was that the Homecoming concert would be large enough to ask for payment through ticket sales. The proceeds from the ticket sales would then fund a free spring concert. The budget also stipulated a reasonable proviso of annual surveys to gauge the success of the budget as it relates to satisfaction with the increased quality of artist. These surveys were not completed. I will not blindly speculate as to why because doing so would do the opposite of what this op-ed is intended to do. I am here not to erase the past, but use past experience to make concerts at the College the best they can be during this board’s term.

You should all care about this recent shift in position for ACE Concerts because we need to know what you want in order to please. It’s that simple. In the past, the de facto model had been that ACE Concerts was an autonomous body that answered only to College Council and the ACE board. This caused some problems, especially last year, with regard to the reporting of budgets and the actual collection of data, given that the second never happened and the first happened too late. Effectively accomplishing these things remains crucial if we want to be both accessible to the student body and efficient in our methods. Thus, ACE Concerts has changed its process.

This process now involves you. There is a reason for almost every decision we make, but those reasons can be obscured by misinformation, confabulation and speculation. ACE Concerts aim to remedy this by freely providing the information you need to make an informed survey response. I am not here to make excuses for the multi faceted issue regarding this year’s budget, but only to say that ACE Concerts now has the leadership it needs to give you what you want. Now it is up to you to inform yourselves, and let ACE Concerts know exactly what that is. The new board members’ names are Quinn Pitcher ’15, Sam Devine ’15 and Gabriel Stephens ’15. We aim to please.

Gabriel Stephens ’15 is from Kendallville, Ind. He lives in Carter.

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