ASUU unlikely to lift concert fees

By By Michael McFall

By Michael McFall

In the past, annual concerts such as the Grand Kerfuffle and Redfest were free for students, but for the last two years students have had to pay for them, and the festivals might never be free again.

The Associated Students of the University of Utah Presenter’s Office overspent its budget in 2006 on the Grand Kerfuffle by $66,000, which exhausted the office’s entire reserve fund of $270,000. As a result, students had to pay $6 to $9 entrance fees for the last two Redfest concerts and $5 for the Grand Kerfuffle.

Students pay a fee of about $20 a semester to support ASUU and its programming arm, the Presenter’s Office.

Despite the office’s more frugal spending practices over the past two years and earnings from entrance fees, students might not have free concerts again.

“(The fee is) necessary, and it makes sure we’re being fiscally responsible,” said Amanda Mecham, director of the Presenter’s Office. The entrance fees create a safety net so that the office can pay the costs for the annual concert and do not have to dip into the reserve of approximately $20,000, she said.

The office isn’t out to make a profit and will not charge students more than needed, she said.

“If the stars aligned, and we got the right groups?it could happen,” said George Lindsey, financial advisor to ASUU.

The Presenter’s Office would have to set aside $20,000 to $30,000 at the beginning of the year if a free concert were going to happen, he said.

Despite spending considerably less money on the Grand Kerfuffle, the office doesn’t have enough money to lift the fee. This year, the Presenter’s Office has spent $85,705 on the festival so far. Lindsey said the concert’s price tag could total as much as $100,000 after expenses for lighting, security and the performance stage.

Although this year’s spending is almost a quarter of what was spent in 2006, and last year’s Kerfuffle was a third of that, the bills do not allow for the $30,000 leeway that would let organizers make the concert free. About $27,000 remains in the office’s account, which should be able to cover the expenses, he said.

The office is not meant to spend every dollar it has down to the zero, Mecham said. The remainder of it will carry over into next year’s reserve.

Attendance at the Grand Kerfuffle has dropped since the introduction of the fee.

Two years ago, when the annual spring concert was free, around 20,000 people attended. Last year’s concert, the first with the fee, drew about 4,500 spectators. Roughly 3,000 tickets had been sold for this year’s concert as of Thursday morning. Brian Burton, ASUU’s programming manager, said he expects to sell at least 1,000 more by Friday night. The day of the concert is always a major day for ticket sales, he said.

However, the same pattern does not apply to Redfest. For last year’s fall concert, when the entrance fee was introduced, the office sold 500 more tickets than 2006. This year, it sold 2,000 more tickets than in 2006.

Mecham said that for such a solid lineup of great musicians, $5 is still a great deal.

This year’s Kerfuffle will feature the Shiny Toy Guns and Hellogoodbye. The concert starts at 5:30 p.m. Students with a UCard can buy two tickets for $5 each at the Union Service Desk. General admission is $17.

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