On Wednesday Oct. 19, the Student Association Executive Board voted 4-2-1 to allocate an additional $51,045 from its own Budget Increases account to Activities Commission's Concerts account in order to execute a larger-scale concert in the spring semester. The reading passed after a reading earlier in the evening to allocate $20,000 from Reserves to Budget Increases also went through.
According to senior Bill Greco, concerts coordinator of Activities Commission, the current concert budget is written for two concerts in an academic year, which would require an accumulation of $92,269 in ticket and merchandise sales. With one concert, Greco said he can only expect to bring in up to $54,000. $37,670 of the requested budget increase will go toward making up this gap in income.
While increasing the price of tickets could raise revenue – which would ultimately return to SA's reserves fund if the concert doesn't require all money allocated – Greco said he strongly opposes the idea of charging students any more money for the concert.
The other $13,375 of the increase will go toward artist performance fees, allowing Geneseo to place higher bids for potential artists to come perform. Greco said he would have to do another reading to reallocate some funds in his current budget – rendered unnecessary by the absence of a fall concert – to lines for University Police fees, emergency services, agent commissions and the performance fee.
As of Oct. 19, 3,200 students had responded to an online survey Greco sent out to the campus – a response rate of 64.6 percent, and higher than all SA elections in the past three years. Currently the most highly-demanded artist by survey respondents is Maroon 5, a band which, according to Greco, would most likely not consider offers less than $125,000.
The Killers and Blink-182 ranked very closely as the second and third most highly demanded bands. Greco said that having $150,000 in his performance fee budget line would allow him to pursue these artists, and he would be unable to do so without the increase.
The budget allocation passed at the last SA meeting was the second of two readings, and at both weeks' meetings discussion lasted almost two hours, with strong questioning of Greco and impassioned discussion from a multitude of students.
"I'm concerned that instead of giving $50,000 to one concert, we could be giving $1,000 each to 50 other campus organizations," said senior Rachel Scott at the Oct. 12 SA meeting.
"This wouldn't directly take any money away from any of the clubs," said senior Heather Bristol, SA director of student programming, at the first reading. "Any group that wants a budget increase can come to these meetings and ask for one."
One of the most highly contested topics of discussion was the issue of ticket sales, especially in light of last year's concert for which multiple students bought tickets only to sell them to friends or on auction sites such as eBay and ticketstub.com.
"I have thought hard about that and will be working hard to make sure we don't see the same thing happen this year," Greco said. He will consider extending the Geneseo student pre-sale from one weekend to a full week and limiting students to purchasing one or two tickets rather than six.
During the second reading, some concern was raised over the previous week's announcement of SA's audit and $109,000 deficit the previous year.
"Given the timing of the deficit announcement, I'm a little gun-shy about spending $50,000 on one single reading," said senior Malcolm Cohen.
"I have a responsibility to spend student activity fees responsibly," said junior Carly Annable, SA director of Inter-Residence Affairs. "I have to think about the big picture, not just this concert."
"We have a responsibility to the 1,200 people who voted for Maroon 5 as well as all of the other clubs on campus," Bristol said. "There are events that cost upwards of $4,000 and are free to attend but draw 12 people," she added. By the numbers, Bristol argued, the concert would proportionally serve more people for the amount of money it would cost than such an event.
After taking $20,000 out of reserves and passing this budget increase for the spring concert, SA has approximately $8,000 left in its budget increases account for the remainder of the year.