This archived article was written by: Kris Kohler
Concerts at the College of Eastern Utah are in danger of becoming extinct because of measly attendance and a seemingly non-responsive student body.
According to some college faculty, event planners are beginning to wonder if it is worth spending more money bringing in high dollar musicians to perform when the last few shows have not financially broken even.
“The Friday Night Schmoozers is an idea that we have been playing with for the past two years. Most of the shows have been very successful, but this year that has not been the case,” said Troy Hunt, general manager of the campus radio station, 107.9 The Edge. “The Schmoozers were originally created to showcase local bands. There is a lot of talent in the area, and we are happy to support the development of local artists. As we did these shows, we met artists from out of the area that liked the idea. These artists include the popular band Victim Effect. We use these concerts as a means of raising necessary operating capital for the radio station, so we have always charged entrance fees. Each time we bring in a band from out of the area and have little or no attendance, we lose money.”
So, why do students fail to attend these concerts? According to a 100-student survey administered by the Eagle staff last week, 20 students have attended a concert this semester. This number is far larger statistically than demonstrated by actual concert attendance.
“If 20 out of every 100 students on campus actually attended the shows then we would not be having this conversation,” quipped Hunt, when presented with the survey data.
The reality of attendance falls far short of this figure. The vast majority of the students said that they weren’t aware of the venues or concerts and would have attended the events if they had known.
According to the survey, the students that knew about the concerts didn’t attend because they had never heard of the bands that were playing and didn’t know what type of music would be played.
“To bring in a big name artist that would be readily known by everybody would cost way too much,” said Hunt. The idea behind the Schmoozers is to introduce people to new music. Also, when we choose an artist to play, we try to play their music on the campus station, and also put links to their web page on our page: www.theedge.ceu.edu. If people want to know the type of music being played at the concerts, I don’t think we can make it any more available than that.”
Hunt maintained the notion that there is a plethora of advertising done on campus to promote the concerts.
“We post fliers all over campus and at local businesses. We also advertise these concerts on the campus radio station, and also have spots running on local commercial radio stations. We also send a message to CEU’s myspace page [www.myspace.com/ceu4sure] and have small fliers placed in student mail boxes.”
Frustrations are high for The Edge staff and department faculty when these shows are a bust.
“At a recent show, we brought a CEU alumnus, Jefferson Montoya, to play. After a lot of promotion, we had eight people show up,” said Hunt. “The artist played a great show. He was a phenomenal performer with a lot to offer. After the show was over, he told me he had never lost the kind of money he did to play in his home town. “This is just one example of the struggles faced by the organizers of concerts this year,” said Hunt.
After a recent show put on in the student center featuring Los Angeles-based band, of concerts this year,” said Hunt.
After a recent show put on in the student center featuring Los Angeles based band, Phathom, an interview with the band gave a perfect example of lackluster local attendance and the effect it has, not only on the college financially but on the band itself.
“The enthusiasm of the little crowd that was there made it a fun show to play,” a member of the band said. “We drove all the way from Oklahoma to do this show and we made around $60. We didn’t even make enough to stay in a hotel. We have an RV, but it doesn’t have any heat. We froze the first night we stayed and then luckily we made friends with a student who let us stay at his apartment and take showers.
We will come back and play here again, but it will have to be when we are on our way to a bigger venue. We were treated wonderfully by everyone we met, but it just didn’t make sense financially. Hopefully the next time we come it will be a little better planned. We always have fun playing, but if we would have had a full house we would have rocked.”
Hunt questions the value of continuing the concert series based on the several reasons.
“We go to a tremendous amount of trouble to book quality bands. It is a lot of work to set up these concerts and when nobody shows up it is a huge embarrassment not only to us, but to the band as well. I hear students complaining all week that there is nothing to do in Price and that they would rather drive home, [wherever home is] than to sit around bored all weekend,”
Hunt said. “It is obvious that the alumni aren’t taking a very active role in student life. If people would come out of their i Pod myopic little worlds and take a look around they would definitely see that there are activities going on almost every weekend, and time and time again only a handful of students show up, the majority of which are the ones that actually organized the event.”
The concert series will continue throughout the rest of the academic year, but a great deal of scrutiny will be placed on the successfulness of the series.
The next show will be on Friday, Nov. 9. The show features bands Today’s Tomorrow, Loa based Patches for Poor Violet, and the return of Victim Effect. Details about the show, and links to hear samples of the band’s music can be found on the radio station’s website at www.theedge.ceu.edu/events.htm.
It is Hunt’s hope that this event will start a trend of good attendance before concerts at CEU become a thing of the past. In the end the student body’s actions rather than their words will be what counts.