Rather than having concerts that are shorter and more frequent, Associate Students, Inc. is opting for longer evening concerts, so they will attract more students and bigger names.
Returning students may have noticed a decrease in the number of concerts hosted by Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) this quarter. So far this academic year, ASI has hosted only one concert, Blue Scholars, as part of its Sunset Concert Series, ASI events director Missi Bullock said.
Plans for a second concert during the 11 a.m. University Union hour on Oct. 10 were jeopardized after two bands cancelled for various reasons, Bullock said. The Green, a reggae band from Hawaii, had a scheduling conflict. The Ceremonies, a rock band from Los Angeles, cancelled just days before the show due to illness, she said.
“At that point, we can’t really book a show for two days later,” Bullock said. “So then we moved to the next available Concert in the Plaza date which was Nov. 7, the only date for the rest of the quarter that was available.”
With a little less than a month to organize the event, Bullock contacted The White Buffalo, an Americana artist from Los Angeles, but he fell through during the early stages of planning, Bullock said.
“Then we had a little bit of time, a little bit of a window,” Bullock said. “We decided to go on campus somewhere and look for something more local that we could just lock in.”
Because Take it SLO, Cal Poly’s a cappella group, is always a crowd favorite, Bullock reached out to them in hopes of solidifying a performance. They were also unavailable to perform, Bullock said. With no more available dates to reserve the University Union during fall quarter, ASI was not able to put on the second concert they had hoped for.
“The staff worked diligently to try to get something for fall, but because of availability of both the space and the artist, that wasn’t able to come to fruition,” Michelle Crawford, ASI program coordinator, said. “So now we’ve turned and set our sights on getting a show in the Recreation Center for winter quarter.”
The winter concert will be held inside at night, due to unpredictable weather and a higher demand for evening entertainment, Bullock said. For the last seven years, Concerts in the Plaza were weekly 11 a.m. shows on Thursdays. However, because of a lack of attendance during University Union hour, ASI has transitioned its shows into a Sunset Concert Series, Bullock said.
“It’s a cultural shift,” Bullock said. “We’re finding that students may or may not come to the plaza in UU hour, and UU hour isn’t a thing. That’s why we’re thinking about it differently.”
Twenty years ago, there was no other place for students to go to hang out when there were no classes on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Michelle Broom, ASI public relations coordinator, said. Without the Recreation Center or Poly Canyon Village, the majority of students congregated in the University Union Plaza, she said.
“In this transition, we realize now, people do have classes from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.,” Broom said. “It’s no longer a sacred hour where you can really chill and do nothing, and so they aren’t coming as they used to.”
According to Crawford, ASI has noticed an increase in attendance by thousands at the Sunset Concert Series shows. Artists also enjoy the evening concerts more and usually have more flexible availability than the 11 a.m. hour, Bullock said.
Evening concerts also mean more “bang for your buck” because ASI can have a 90-minute show rather than the 50 minutes that University Union hour permits, Bullock said. Getting the best deal is important to ASI, as one of their goals is to spend student fees responsibly while providing quality entertainment.
“We look at our strongest obligation to be a respectful steward of student money,” Crawford said. “With this shift, Missi is able to have a larger impact on the general Cal Poly student than if she was just to continue programming a Thursday 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. hour concert.”
Though ASI had a decreased event budget this year, they now have unused funds from fall quarter to plan for a bigger show during winter or spring, Crawford said.
With the establishment of the new Campus Advisory Board, Bullock hopes to hear more of what students want in an ASI concert. The board, made of up 15 students from a variety of majors, will help her decide which bands to book, as well as plan other events throughout the year.
“The goal is to bring students what they want, and unless we hear from them, unless they’re going on Facebook and sending us emails, or volunteering their time, maybe an hour or two a month, to come and hang out on this Advisory Board, we can’t bring them what they want,” Broom said.
The board is open to all students, and Bullock hopes more will join to ensure a larger diversity of opinion. ASI wants new faces and new ideas at the meetings so they can provide an “awesome experience” for all students, Broom said.
“We don’t sit back and make these decisions in a bubble,” Broom said. “This is about them, for them.”