For the first time in years, there will be a Student Association-funded spring concert.
Following the establishment of an official ad-hoc committee at Sept. 10’s SA executive council meeting, the real planning for the event can begin.
But, according to SA President Jessica Falace, talks likely wouldn’t have gotten this far without one current SA Vice President.
“In the past, a lot of people have come forward with this idea when it comes to campaigns,” Falace said. “I would say that the person who pushed it the most and kept it going even when the answer was no was Shiyiheeim Nartey-Tokoli.”
When running for the SA’s Vice President of Finance position last fall, Nartey-Tokoli made bringing back some sort of spring-fest or concert one of the big ideas he ran on.
“As I actually got into the position, I started looking at surveys and talking to students, and one thing that kept popping up was a concert,” Nartey-Tokoli said. “The next step was to find the money for the concert.”
Nartey-Tokoli and his colleagues set to business last semester, and studied the last eight semesters of club budgets, finding consistently unused money that had been allocated to clubs and meeting with them to see if it was still needed.
“We just asked, ‘This money hasn’t been used for the last two years, do you still need it in your budget?’,” Nartey-Tokoli said. “By doing that, we were able to get a significant amount of funds already.”
The SA currently has a budget of $73,000 set aside for the concert.
The mandatory SA fee that all students pay increased to $110 dollars this semester, but Nartey-Tokoli stated that most of that money will go to maintaining club budgets and services that the SA offers, like the downtown shuttle, while a small part is going toward the concert.
With a source of funding and an official committee necessary for planning established, co-chairs were needed.
Nartey-Tokoli was a natural choice, but former SA Speaker of the Senate Joe Lewis was brought in as a capable partner for Nartey-Tokoli.
Lewis was a part of the 54th and 55th SA legislations, a time when plans started to form about possibly bringing a concert back.
“That’s when the idea not necessarily emerged but was pushed by the [SA] president at the time,” Lewis said. “There was a lot of push back. I saw what didn’t work as well, what ideas were not taken as well, what ideas had potential and those kind of things.”
Lewis also worked with the ICM Partners Talent Agency over the summer, giving him contacts to work with to find a suitable artist for the SA’s budget.
Nartey-Tokoli cited lack of attendance as one of the reasons he found that the concert tradition died in the past, but a survey put out by the SA this semester suggests that that likely won’t be an issue this time around.
The survey inquired students by email about what genre of artist they would prefer for the concert.
“The survey was open for a week and two days, and we got a response of 1432 individuals, Nartey-Tokoli said. “I was very happy with that. The school usually only gets a response of about 2 percent, or 200 students, for their surveys.”
From the survey, the committee came up with a list of the top three genres that were voted for.
Lewis and Nartey-Tokoli didn’t want to go into what the top three genres were.
The chance that complications with the budget or artist availability may lead to getting an artist outside of the top group, but Lewis remained hopeful.
“With the budget we have, most likely,” Lewis said in regards to getting an artist from the top three genres. “I don’t want to promise anything, but my hope is yes, and from my phone call with the agent, it sounds definitely doable.”
The planning process is in the early stages, as the committee had its first meeting this past Wednesday.
Once the artist has been chosen and ticketing of the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena has been planned, the committee will have an idea of what the full budget will be.
The committee plans to meet weekly on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. in the SA Conference Room in the Angell College Center.
Falace said that any student can become a voting member of the committee by attending at least two meetings, earning the opportunity to vote on decisions by their third. While an exact date for the concert has not been chosen, the committee is aiming for a Thursday or Friday in late April or early May.
Email Ben Watson at email@example.com