The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 3:46 p.m.

Editorial: UMaine Student Entertainment’s plans to shape up seem too shallow

Student Entertainment is in a tight financial bind, and this may have fun-ancial implications for this semester’s event calendar. While they have emphasized they are no longer in debt, the division does have a $13,000 deficit to contend with. Not to worry! It won’t affect funding until at least next year, and apparently the budget is such a bottomless well that a decrease in unallocated funds of over $10,000 would be barely noticeable anyway. In the more immediate future, Student Entertainment has a foolproof plan for booking the perfect show for spring: Book — wait for it — the perfect show for spring. And if a spring show doesn’t work out, they’ll have a good one scheduled for the fall, so we should all check our complaints at the door.

In all seriousness, the strategy the vice president for Student Entertainment has outlined for making the organization more successful is to host more successful shows. More specifically, Student Entertainment is only going to book a performer for the spring semester if “it should be a no-brainer that [students are] going to want to come” — just a taste of a groundbreaking new policy of greater selectiveness overall.

Their three-point plan to prevent future financial hiccups like those that contributed to the current deficit is as follows: boost student interest, boost ticket sales and better account for overall booking costs. Where Student Entertainment previously assumed it was apathy keeping potential attendees from rushing the door at recent performances, they now acknowledge that more low-profile acts might simply yield a smaller audience, especially when those smaller shows are met with meager marketing efforts. Whatever the reasons for the apparently low student interest, it would seem to be a contributing factor in the second challenge: to increase ticket sales. Other factors might include high ticket prices — an obvious deterrent for so many of us who on occasion have to count change out of our center console just to buy enough gas to get to campus — and, again, limited advertising. And then, where booking costs constitute an obviously large percentage of the funds required to put on a show, Student Entertainment decided booking three big shows over the course of one semester might have been “over-ambitious” and greater restraint must be exercised in the future.

Luckily, the Division of Student Organizations is acquiring a new website, OrgSync, meant to keep students in touch with event programming offered by various campus organizations. It will hopefully serve as a more effective marketing tool than FirstClass announcements, which often get tossed in the circular file along with “Spotify” notifications and UCU bank statements. The site apparently includes a polling system whereby students can indicate their interest in potential acts and different genres of performance overall, which could help Student Entertainment limit their investments to events appealing enough that “someone’s going to want to come.”

Student Entertainment is right: What the people want are affordable tickets to fantastic performances. If they can find a show for the spring semester sure to fill the venue, it might be worth the expenses. But shouldn’t careful selection be the standard even under ordinary circumstances? Shouldn’t they hold out for fewer shows guaranteed to draw a strong turnout? It might keep the budget in a relatively healthier condition while simultaneously boosting the credibility of their selections.