There will likely be no high-profile headliner at Spring Fling this year, according to sources in the WSA. The Social Committee has already booked rap duo Clipse and one other as-yet-unannounced band to play at Spring Fling, and had hoped to get a particularly high profile headliner. Now, due to financial considerations, the committee is looking to get one or two smaller bands to play in addition to the two already booked.
This year’s Spring Fling budget, which is not yet finalized, is estimated to be around $55,000, a number comparable to last year’s budget of $56,000. The SBC had already allocated $50,000 to the Social committee for Spring Fling when they announced on February 27th that they were nearly out of money for the year, damaging hopes for more robust Spring Fling funding. Six thousand dollars were allocated to book an opening act, $14,000 for a middle act, and $30,000 for a headliner—the spot that the Social Committee has been unable to fill. Chris Goy ’09, SBC Chair cites the economy as a reason for the difficulty of booking a headliner for the amount available.
“The reason why we are unlikely to have a headliner for spring fling is because there are certain markets in this economy that are recession-proof, and entertainment is one of them,” he said. “This is why prices have actually stayed constant or gone up in the entertainment business.”
Before the SBC announced its budget shortfall, it seemed likely that the Social committee would receive further funds for Spring Fling. At the end of December, some members of the SBC predicted that the Spring Fling budget would be as high as $75,000. The February 27th announcement proved that prediction wtong.
While the $55,000 budget is just $1000 less than last year’s budget, Social Committee members appear to have assumed that more funds were forthcoming. When these funds did not materialize due to the SBC’s precarious position, the Social Committee changed its approach.
“We had to start looking at bands that didn’t cost so much,” said Gardner. “We had booked two acts before [the announcement], and we had been looking to book a bigger name after that, but when we found out we might not have so much money we had to come up with a different game plan and approach it from a different angle.”
According to Goy, the difficulties in booking a headliner are mostly economic, and are not a result of a major difference in procedure this year.
“This year the Social Committee has talked to at least 100 acts,” he said. “A lot of them don’t have the time availability, or $30,000 isn’t going to cut it.”
Goy specifically mentioned that the Social Committee had tried to book Sonic Youth as a headliner, but they refused to play for $30,000, despite the fact that they all live nearby and had no previous commitments, as they no longer tour.
While $30,000 may not be enough to book a big-name act, more funds will not be forthcoming. These developments come on the heels of a SBC announcement that they are almost out of funds. The budget, which was $612,000 at the beginning of the year, was down to $60,000 at the end of February. There will be only $2,000 to $4,000 available for the SBC to allocate at their last meeting this week, and students are starting to feel the shortfall.
“We have an expanded budget, which everyone seems to know about, and the phenomenon of us denying requests in order to stay afloat is one that began about 3 or 4 weeks ago,” said Goy.
Student requests that used to be granted in routine fashion are now being turned down as a result of the tight budget, students say. Michael Ullman, who went to an SBC meeting recently to request funding for a dance party, was one of those surprised when his request was rejected.
“I wasn’t asking for much, but… I got an email back saying that my request had gotten rejected,” he said. “I was asking for about $350 for this show, and previously they granted my request of $89 to buy 100 masks without me even having to go in for the meeting.”
Goy sympathized with these students and related the increased rate of denials to the Spring Fling situation. Although Spring Fling is an essential aspect of student life, Goy noted, it ends up accounting for nearly 10% of the total yearly budget.
“I place a lot of value on the tiny stuff that we have to turn down to pay for these large ticket items,” Goy said.
He noted that in order to make sure that the small things receive funding, some bigger items may have to be cut in the future.
“We’ve developed these sort of entrenched social norms that certain things have to be done, and I don’t think they do,” he said.
He cited senior cocktails as an example of the high-cost budget items that might be reconsidered. Senior cocktails cost $82,000 this year—over 13% of the SBC’s starting budget.
Goy puts most of the blame for the SBC’s situation on the oil spike this summer, which led to a general increase in prices that lasted even after oil prices.
While raising the Student Activities Fee would prevent similar financial situations in the future, Goy is opposed to such measures.
“I think that’s a bad habit, to try and spend our way out of problems,” he said.
For the future, he suggested, more responsibility on both sides—the student body and the SBC—would be a good thing.
“I’ll be the first to admit that there is human error on both sides,” he said.