ACE Concerts’ survey seeks student input for event planning

On Oct. 8, All-Campus Entertainment (ACE) Concerts Committee sent a survey to the student body via an all-campus e-mail seeking opinions on the size and types of concert acts that students would like to see brought to campus. The survey followed a publicity campaign by ACE Concerts co-chairs Sam Devine ’15, Quinn Pitcher ’15 and Gabriel Stephens ’15 that included a brochure distributed throughout campus detailing the process and cost of bringing different acts to campus. Stephens also recently authored a Record op-ed encouraging students to engage in ACE Concerts’ process (“Concert planning 101,” Oct. 17).

The survey generated 651 student responses. While 58.1 percent of respondents indicated that they had openly criticized an ACE concert, 56.9 percent of respondents indicated that they would not recommend ACE Concerts’ budget being reduced. Respondents indicated that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 indicating they were completely comfortable with the Student Activities Tax (SAT) funding $80,000 concerts and one indicating that they were uncomfortable with the SAT funding such concerts, students’ average response was a 6.18.

The survey also specifically asked whether students desired more expensive and well-known acts as opposed to lesser-known but cheaper acts. The survey asked students to rate their likelihood of attending a concert performed by an artist they knew very well on a scale of one to 10 (with a rating of 10 indicating that a student was most likely to attend the concert). The average response to this question was an 8.39, whereas the average response when asked if students would attend a concert of an artist they did not know very well was a 4.93. Additionally, 60.9 percent of respondents indicated that they would rather have one $80,000 concert than have two or three concerts costing between $10,000 and $30,000.

In response to student requests for larger concerts, Stephens says ACE Concerts will seek more funding for concerts. “We are going to use [the data] to argue for a larger budget to increase the satisfaction of campus with the concerts we get,” he said. Stephens also mentioned that while ACE Concerts’ goal is to implement students’ desired changes to concerts as quickly as possible, budgetary considerations may prevent ACE Concerts from fully implementing desired changes immediately.

Though ACE Concerts made a limited proposal to College Council (CC) at its Oct. 24 meeting, CC does not currently have plans to alter its funding of ACE Concerts. “We do not have specific plans to alter the way we approach funding for this budget request or ACE Concerts in general,” CC co-president Krista Pickett ’13 said.

“Our goal, as always, in thinking about funding is to match demonstrated student need and interest with a balanced, 30,000-foot view of our finances and the many student groups, all-campus events and other demands funded by the SAT throughout the entire year.”

Driven by the survey data, ACE Concerts recently delivered a proposal to CC regarding a large spring concert, potentially scheduled for April.

“Right now, we’re looking to have the spring concert sometime in April, with the availability of the eventual artist being the determining factor for the particular weekend the concert would be,” Pitcher said. “There has been talk of having the concert as a sort of capstone event for Williams Day or a Williams Day-like event, but such talk is speculative at this point in time and requires continued discussion with College Council.”

While ACE’s Homecoming act this year, 3LAU, came in substantially under budget, ACE cannot merely transfer the leftover money from its Homecoming budget to a spring concert due to the nature of CC co-sponsorship.

“The money allocated to ACE for a Homecoming concert over the summer is for that event only. If they do not spend the full amount allocated, they will not be able to keep the difference,” Pickett said. “So far, the focus has been on getting as many campus bodies as possible involved in the funding and planning so that CC can further assess how much SAT money would actually be needed.”

Ticket sales from the Homecoming concert typically fund ACE’s spring concert, but the 3LAU event this Friday will be free to students. Accordingly, in order to acquire a larger spring performer, ACE must seek funding from multiple sources.

“For the past two years, the larger concert has been on Homecoming weekend, and ticket sales from that concert were used to fund a free concert in the spring, with the logic being that students would be getting two concerts for the ‘price’ of one,” Pitcher said. “With tickets being free for 3LAU this year, we have to reapply for funding from College Council for the spring concert. So using ticket sales, the past two spring concerts have been in the $20,000 to $25,000 range, and a show with an artist with a performer fee in the range of $30,000 to $35,000 would result in a total budget of about $50,000.

“So while the budget has markedly increased, the source for funding has changed, and we’re working with College Council to find the best way to fund the concert using a combination of co-sponsorship, fundraising and College Council funding,” Pitcher continued.

CC is currently working to determine whether or not it can fill ACE’s budget request.

“College Council and Finance Committee [FinCom] received ACE’s budget request prior to last Wednesday’s CC meeting,” Pickett said. “FinCom’s role will be to decide whether we can absorb such a substantial budget request … Already, our treasurer and Finance Committee have recommended potential co-sponsors, such as the neighborhoods, for ACE to consider as it looks to acquire this money.”

Due to Massachusetts contract laws, the Record cannot publish the name of the act that ACE Concerts is pursuing for its spring concert before the act is signed. However, Stephens stressed that ACE Concerts is guided moving forward by the expressed opinions of the student body.

“ACE Concerts, since its leadership is new, is going to be using the satisfaction data as a starting point for our term, and see if changes that are instituted and moves that we make impact the satisfaction of the student body over the long term with our choices,” he said. “All we want to do is give people what they want and give them a way to tell us what they want.”