National Act Expensive Beyond Band's Costby Nelson Barre '08 • October 5, 2006
Just how far does $50,000 toward bringing national acts to Wabash?
Hootie and the Blowfish may or may not be the selection of the majority at Wabash College. Saturday night’s concert will be a statement made about who really wanted that band. There has been talk among all those involved that Hootie is not what the campus wants. Considering the options, there is not much else out there at that price.
"I’m not sure who they would want," assistant football coach and advisor to the Senior Council Activities Committee (SCAC) Steve House said. "Someone might suggest Jimmy Buffett, but he’ll only come for $165,000. Someone asks for the Black Eyed Peas, but they cost $200,000."
Prices of most semi-popular artists can be as outrageous as that or even higher. The only possible way of using that much money, however, would be the consolidation of funds into one big spring National Act.
The problem, according to SCAC co-chair Chris McNicholas ’07, is not with deciding on whom to bring, but rather timing. Most artists that come to Wabash are already in the area, on tour, so the College does not have to pay extra for travel expenses, which it could probably not afford. Bands’ schedules are set up long before planning begins for National Acts, so the Senior Council Activities Committee has to work with who is available.
Some students complain that they have no input in the selection process. The problem has been addressed in the past by Blackboard votes.
"We had the Blackboard vote, and that brought rap and hip-hop to the front," House said. "So, we brought Twista and the Roots. Both concerts were poorly attended."
The budget is used each semester to bring the best, most affordable National Act. Unfortunately, the pricing of stages and lighting has gone up in recent years.
"We pay about $12,000 for a stage and lighting now versus the $2,400 we spent in 2000," House said.
The selection is based precisely on the $63,000 budget. This only allows for a small amount of leeway for the SCAC in selecting the National Act.
"We bend over backwards for the National Act," House said. "The complaints should be addressed, but what we’ve tried hasn’t worked."
Previous Wabash National Acts have used the entirety of the budget, such as last semester’s two shows (Pat Green and O.A.R.), the Roots, Twista, and Chevelle. None of those concerts were well attended. On the other hand, Ben Folds was a sell-out and used the entire budget.
McNicholas pointed out that since the Senate does not have nearly as much money as some of the other concert promoters around, the SCAC tries to keep ticket prices low. In some cases, not all the money needs to be spent for National Acts, which seems a better solution to the problem.
"In 2000, we brought Outkast for $30,000," House said. "Lewis Black was $29,000, and I thought he was worth it. We could get Bill Cosby for two shows for $50,000 but they didn’t like that idea."
The options are out there for all sorts of National Acts. The timing simply needs to work and students need to realize the tremendous amount of work necessary to make the concert work. Everything has to be planned and prepared long in advance and that takes a lot of time and money. The idea is to provide a good social weekend for students and all other coming to campus.
Expectations are high for Hootie and the Blowfish. Needless to say, the outcome of attendance at the concert will be a big "I told you so" for whichever side is right.
Only preliminary planning has begun for the next National Act. House and McNicholas hope to get this weekend out of the way before thinking about another one.