Spring Fling Planning to Change Following Complaints
After the Spring Fling lineup was released a month later than normal, receiving a lukewarm reaction from students, members of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) and the Spring Fling Committee are looking to amend the planning process. A new selection process for committee members will be implemented this spring for next fall’s committee, and the number of members will decrease from 13 to 11. The goal of the changes are to minimize scheduling difficulties like those faced by this year’s committee.
Student concerns over the Spring Fling planning process in the past couple of years have prompted the Spring Fling Committee to work with the WSA to implement changes.
“Essentially, there were concerns starting almost two years ago about the way the Spring Fling Committee operated,” said WSA Vice President Meherazade Sumariwalla ’12. “Members were internally selected by the committee year after year, and people felt it was very insular.”
To get a wider range of applicants for next year, the WSA and Spring Fling sent out applications to the entire student body on April 21. They are currently in the process of interviewing nearly thirty students who are interested in working on the committee, including six or seven current committee members.
“We will be re-interviewing all of [the current committee members] and, based on the merits of their applications and their interviews, they will be selected or not selected to continue on the committee,” Sumariwalla said. “That was a big part of moving to this system, making everyone reapply. That’s how Concert Committee works, that’s how the Green Fund works, and how many other sub-committees work.”
This year’s Spring Fling lineup includes Nicolas Jaar, MiMOSA, Chairlift, and Big K.R.I.T., who was just announced as the musical guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for the day after Spring Fling.
Spring Fling Chair Michael Piderit ’12 noted that a number of factors complicated the planning of the event. For example, the budget for this year’s concert was reduced from $55,000 to $45,000 this year, which made booking acts much more difficult.
“I think that the lineup is reflective of the decrease in the budget,” Piderit said. “[It’s] also reflective of the fact that in today’s music industry, because artists are really, really struggling to make any amount of money on their albums or produced work, they have to get as much money as they possibly can while touring.”
Next year, the WSA hopes that the committee will be able to book acts earlier in the year. Piderit explained that Spring Fling occurs at the beginning of the summer music festival season, making it more difficult to book artists.
“All of the artists and their booking agents are very hesitant to book things far in advance, because they are trying to plan their tours accordingly,” Piderit said. “So we try to get in touch, craft relationships with booking agencies that represent the artists we’re interested in, and we’re constantly following up and seeing who is available and breaking down our budget so we can have a nice, well-rounded lineup.”
Piderit expressed the difficulties of booking acts for Spring Fling.
“People tend to see the end result, and understandably just look at the names, and not consider all of the work that went into making that happen,” Piderit said. “Bringing an act to central Connecticut, on one day of the year, at the beginning of a summer festival swing, is incredibly difficult to do, especially with a small budget.”
Instead of going for big name acts, Piderit claimed the committee hoped to book a variety of acts that represented many different genres. Spring Fling this year was also extended to last for five hours, with four different artists.
“We’re very conscious that our lineup doesn’t have the same name recognition that it had in the past,” Piderit said. “We’ve tried to get acts that we know put on really dynamic live sets, and we want people to come and say ‘Wow, I didn’t really know that act, but now I’m into them,’ because they put on such a great show.”
For next year, the selection committee hopes to choose anywhere from four to seven members by the summer. The remaining spaces will be filled in the fall by incoming freshmen, students who were abroad, or other student applicants. Piderit hopes that current members will have a good chance of getting reselected because of their experience.
“There’s no substitute for having done it already and knowing what’s coming,” Piderit said. “I think it would be very smart to have a percentage of next year’s committee being current members, because starting from scratch would be very difficult.”
Piderit, Sumariwalla, Associate Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD) Elisa Del Valle, and SBC Chair Cameron Couch ’13 have been interviewing the applicants. The new chairs, Del Valle, and select members of the Spring Fling Committee will interview the new applicants in the fall.
“We look for people who, first and foremost, have had experience booking talents and booking shows,” Piderit said. “Negotiating skills and people skills are also very important, because one of the biggest things we need people to do is develop relationships with different booking agents.”
While experience is important in choosing applicants, there are other factors that go into the selection process. In the past, the committee has attempted to accept students from different years who have varied musical tastes. Under the new by-laws designated by the WSA, applicants will also be judged based on their event planning skills.
“We will be looking [to see if] they have had leadership positions or worked with students groups,” Sumariwalla said. “They need to understand the ropes about how events come together at Wesleyan.”
Additionally, members of the SBC will be appointed as liaisons for different committees to help them with their budgets throughout the year. The Spring Fling liaison will be responsible for maintaining monthly contact with the Spring Fling Committee, attending meetings, and making sure regular progress is being made on the concert.
“That’s the basic way that we’ve tried to make changes, make it a little more open, have more input from the WSA and the SALD office, and make people feel like it’s not a singular, self-selecting body,” Sumariwalla said.
A new selection process for members will be implemented this spring for next fall’s committee, and the number of members will decrease from 13 to 11.