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Letter to the Editor: Student Events welcomes student feedback

Published: March 24, 2006
Section: Opinions


To the Editor:
The piece published by Leor Galil in last weeks issue is troubling for several reasons. The article is filled with misinformation and rumors that we as the Student Events Major Entertainment department would like to clarify. While we welcome conversation and feedback in regard to Student Events choice of concerts, Galils article is striking because, as someone who is involved in the music industry and planning shows through WBRS, his writing makes putting on a successful concert as simple as finding a band. Which, quite frankly, is not so simple in itself. Galil lists many artists he would have preferred come to Brandeis this semester and unfortunately did not bother to ask us whether or not we had considered bringing any of these artists, which in fact we had. In the past three semesters we have unsuccessfully attempted to bring The Bravery, G Love and the Special Sauce, George Clinton, Our Lady Peace, Franz Ferdinand, Death Cab for Cutie, Keane, Broken Social Scene, and the Strokes (all on his list). In planning each semesters show, there are many factors that must be taken into consideration. First, we are limited to the dates given to us by Athletics. Logically, Athletics prioritizes athletic events, and we are given the dates that are left after all varsity and intramural sports schedules have been set. This usually leaves us two or three dates with which to work;

we do not have the luxury of ensuring a weekend date. Second, as we are limited in dates, artists also often already have tour dates planned. If our availabilities do not coincide with any of the artists availabilities, they cannot play here. Third, any artist brought to Brandeis for a major concert must pass a background check by Ed Callahan, Director of Public Safety, and be approved by the city of Waltham. Any artist who has a negative reputation with administrators at other universities will not be allowed to perform here. Our limited options for dates coupled with safety concerns of the school often limit our options significantly.

Further, while Galil cites our budget costs for O.A.R. this semester at $50,000, he did not realize that his was not spent exclusively on talent, but also includes sound, lights, publicity, and the PSP MLB clubhouse that will be at the show. Typically, sound, lights, and staging alone cost approximately $10,000-12,000. We are also generally required to pay a 10% fee to Howie Cusack, our booking agent at Pretty Polly Productions, provide catering, a professional stage crew, security (Brandeis officers, Waltham officers, and Knight Security), custodians, electricians, HVAC, conference and events services, BEMCo, Bran Van rental, hotel rooms and travel fees, tickets, parking attendants, and hospitality. Each show has a different contract with different requirements, which often add up to even more expenses, and because these stipulations are contractual, they are typically non-negotiable.

We are strongly committed to keeping ticket prices for students as low as possible, which obviously limits us in the artists we can bring. A larger budget or higher ticket prices do not necessarily serve to guarantee a larger artist. Last semester, we sent a survey to the student body asking for feedback about Talib Kweli and suggestions for this semester. Our most frequently requested artists were the Counting Crows and the Rolling Stones. Our facilities, unfortunately, are not to the standards of a major performer such as the Rolling Stones, and they would never consider playing here even if we could afford them, which we cannot. Essentially, if an artist can sell out a major arena such as the Fleet Center, our 2,000 person show in our gymnasium is less than enticing, regardless of the amount of money offered.

Every semester we try to bring an outstanding performer to our campus. Clearly, we cannot please everyone. Regardless of who comes, each semester there are angry students. It is impossible to please 3,200 students with 3,200 different musical tastes. However, in trying to bring a variety of musical acts, we work hard to provide something different each semester. Though we cannot bring everyones favorite band each semester, we believe that each performer appeals to different aspects of the Brandeis community. While Galil cites Talib Kweli as an opportunity to broaden his musical horizons, he fails to consider O.A.R. in the same light. Clearly, his frustration stems from this personal distaste for O.A.R. He fails to acknowledge that to many Brandeis students, Talib Kweli bears a much stronger resemblance to his totally inappropriate reference to torture at Guantanamo Bay than does O.A.R. Due to the equally immense diversity in musical tastes, it is unfortunately impossible for every single student to know and appreciate each performer.

We welcome and actively seek student feedback and involvement in the concert process. Were struck by the fact that not once has Galil voiced his concerns directly to us, especially in light of the fact that we as a department meet with Galil and other members of WBRS and RSA every week to discuss and plan Springfest. So to Galil and others who complain, question, or praise, drop us an email. Student Events applications go out every semester and if you are unhappy, quit complaining and get involved.

Melanie Felman, Deepa Patel, and Sharon Makowski
Major Entertainment Department Student Events