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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Dylan nixed, possibility of festival still on table

Published: November 30, 2012
Section: Featured, News

Bob Dylan has been cut from the set list for next semester’s proposed festival. While the event is still likely to occur, it will no longer be called the 50th Anniversary Bob Dylan Folk Festival, as student organizers had planned.

While there are still talks going on to bring Dylan to campus next fall, the 2013 Spring semester would feature only a now-indoor festival in Gosman, as well as Springfest the following day.

Organizers would work to retain the festival atmosphere, even with the indoor venue. The festival would have vendors and multiple acts, occurring the day before Springfest. The decision to cut Dylan from the act was largely due to cost.

Dylan’s booking price, nearly $300,000, would hamper the net finances of the university. After multiple drafts of the business plan with larger concessions for safety, costs began to outstrip the revenue from the event, if it had included Dylan’s booking price.

“It might not be Bob Dylan, but whoever it is, and we have specific ideas in mind, would be a big deal,” Manning said. The complete talent for the current incarnation of the festival would cost two thirds of Dylan alone.

“The university’s problem was, we haven’t done anything big in 10 years, we haven’t done anything like this outdoors ever,” Manning said.

Moving indoors without Dylan, says Manning, would not only significantly decrease costs and make the university more comfortable with the endeavor, but make the entire event profitable for the university.

“It would overtake the cost and make a good deal of money,” Manning said. “It would be a self-sustaining thing that didn’t use any student funds, other than maybe an initial down payment, but that would be made back.”

In the beginning, student organizers were told that the Bob Dylan event didn’t have to make money, “The more we scaled back our last plan, the less money it made,” Manning said.

“Originally, it would have made money, but as we scaled it back, we had to change things in the budget and costs started outweighing actual income. It doesn’t mean it would have outweighed benefit. Benefit would have still outweighed cost,” he added.

According to another of the organizers, Alex Pilger ’13, “We scaled it down and it was basically nixed, at which point we came up with another proposal. So, I don’t think it was even in their mind, it wasn’t as if it was continuously scaled down.”

By cutting Dylan, the festival is far less expensive, and moving it inside Gosman gym, where concerts are regularly held, makes the plan far more tenable for the administration. “This was suggested by them at an earlier point,” Manning said.

“Outdoors they’re uncomfortable with,” said Manning. “Indoors they’ve done before … They’re interested in doing something, it’s just something that they’re comfortable with.”

Manning and Pilger plan to continue pushing for a 50th anniversary festival of Dylan’s 1963 concert for the fall semester. “It would still be 50 years,” said Manning. Currently, however, it is unlikely. “The chances that Bob Dylan would play Brandeis in the fall,” says Manning, “are very, very slim. I would say 10 percent.”

“It’s not dead, but I’m content with this,” Manning said. “I knew it was an option all along. If this happened, it would be a huge deal anyway. And then, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Bob Dylan thing is dead.”