SUA Hopeful for Large Scale Concert

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The Student Union Assembly (SUA) is currently pursuing UC Santa Cruz’s first ever large scale music festival. Intended to be held May 3 and 10 on the East Field, the festival will feature a mainstage with a range of well known artists, as well as UCSC student art and Santa Cruz food vendors. Contracts with artists are currently in the works and the lineup and ticket prices are planned to be announced and advertised sometime mid-February.

While planning did not officially begin until August 2013, Internal Vice Chair Max Hufft thought about the absence of a large concert at UCSC since his freshman year. Hufft said large scale events at other UCs such as UC San Diego’s Sun God festival and UCLA’s Bruin Bash sparked his desire to offer a similar event at UCSC.

While large school-sanctioned events such as OPERS Fall Festival brings many of the colleges together, un-sanctioned school events such as 4/20 and First Rain gain more attention from the communities outside of UCSC, Hufft said.

“[When you think of UCSC], you think of 4/20, First Rain and a bizarre grading system that no longer exists,” Hufft said. “Through this concert, we’re really hoping this is one of the few ways we can tell the world, the nation and the state: this is UCSC.”

As one of the concert’s primary visionaries and planners, director of student life David Pickard views this concert as an opportunity to bring together the UCSC campus and the Santa Cruz community. The concert will also provide a place for all of the colleges to feel unified, Pickard said.

“It is really supposed to be a large scale, universitywide event to boost student life and to get people to be really excited about where they are and enjoy music,” Pickard said. “It really is about having fun and coming together.”

To gauge student interest in the concert, SUA sent an opinion poll to students via email during fall quarter 2013. Of the 2,057 students who participated in the opinion poll, 93 percent said they were in favor of a spring music festival on the East Field, 2 percent responded they were not interested and 5 percent responded as “possibly” in favor.

The poll also gauged which artists students were interested in seeing. Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Kaskade and Imagine Dragons received the most votes from students, with eight to nine percent of students interested in these artists. The poll’s results are being used to pursue performers for the festival, Pickard said.

It is difficult to estimate the number of people able to attend the event, considering nothing of this stature has taken place at the East Field, Pickard said. However, SUA currently hopes somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 people will purchase tickets for the concert.

Illustration by Maren Slobody.
Illustration by Maren Slobody.

Funded by a loan from the Dean of Students Office, revenue from ticket sales will be used to repay the loan, with the hope they will break even. The precise amount of the loan has yet to be determined.

“We’re not trying to make money, but we’re also not trying to lose money,” Pickard said. “We’re trying to just hit the zero mark.”

SUA hired College Ten cocurricular program coordinator Jose Reyes-Olivas as the production manager, who will work to find and book the artists performing at the festival. Reyes-Olivas has been involved with such musical festivals as the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival and the Outside Lands Music Festival. Reyes-Olivas has also been involved with UCSC’s Multicultural Festival.

“[Reyes-Olivas] has a lot of experiences on this campus and working with the large scale music festival stuff, like Outside Lands and Coachella,” Hufft said. “We needed someone like that who knew the campus structure and knew that type of large scale production structure. [Reyes-Olivas has] been really great.”

Just as UCLA’s Bruin Bash and UCSD’s Sun God Festival are supported by student fees and sponsors, UCSC’s festival will require a referendum increasing the SUA’s operating budget if it takes place annually. SUA plans to propose this referendum in the spring and Pickard stressed the importance of the referendum passing if the concert will continue after this year.

“If students want this to happen annually then this [referendum] has to pass,” Pickard said.

Considering this will be UCSC’s first attempt at such a large scale music festival, challenges unique to UCSC, such as parking and lack of a large arena space like a football stadium, will need hurdling before the concert takes place, said Chief of Staff to the Internal Vice Chair Kayla Oh.

“Other schools have had this for a couple of years already, and they have sort of gotten into the groove of things — what works, what doesn’t work, what mistakes were made and what issues they didn’t foresee happening,” Oh said. “We have a very different campus from a lot of the other UCs that have these [festivals].”

In order to facilitate such a large scale event, SUA worked closely with OPERS, the Chief of Police, Grounds Services, Procurement Services and other campus departments. Subcommittees such as safety and security, transportation and parking, and community relations were also established to oversee these various concerns. Students will have the opportunity to join these subcommittees, becoming more closely involved with the festival, Hufft said.

While the festival is beginning to gain traction and important decisions are being made, Pickard also recognizes the challenges still facing the final planning and actual occurrence of the concert.

“There’s a lot of red tape and there’s a lot of speed bumps, but we’re full throttle ahead trying to make this happen,” Pickard said.