Northern Arts and Entertainment (NAE), the student group responsible bringing Josh Gracin to campus on Oct. 2, is facing obstacles when meeting student demands for entertainment at NMU.
The Gracin concert in the Vandament Arena was the first time the organization co-sponsored an event; splitting overall costs with Upfront and Company after the local restaurant had issues with limited capacity in their venue.
According to NAE advisor, Dave Bonsall, 533 of the 741 attendees were NMU students, but the organization is still receiving criticism about events brought to campus.
“I think people have the wrong idea,” said Bonsall. “They think (NAE) can just go out and get any band they want to get, and there are actually a lot of limitations with that.”
NAE President Whitney Tapani said that some people have unrealistic expectations about bringing performers to NMU that will appeal to a substantial portion of students.
“People are saying, ‘why don’t you bring someone like (comedian) Dane Cook?'” said Tapani “Well he’s $100,000.”
Other performers that have been suggested to Tapani have been artists such as Taylor Swift and Britney Spears, but Swift would cost $200,000, while Spears would charge $1 million to put on a single show.
“We can’t do over $60,000 unless we are positive it is going to sell out,” she said.
NAE can receive funding to bring performers to campus only after approval from either the Student Finance Committee (SFC) or the board of the Major Events Fund.
Tapani said some acts, or performers, aren’t very happy to make the trip to the Upper Peninsula just to put on a performance or two.
“We are in the U.P.,” she said. “People don’t like coming here.”
She said Stephen Lynch, who NAE brought to NMU to perform his comedy act in December 2007, didn’t like coming to the U.P.
According to Bonsall, NAE is restricted by several factors when bringing performers to campus. These include conflicts with tour schedules and locations, and the fact that some acts don’t like to perform on college campuses.
Even when NAE is able fill the Berry Event Center for a larger event, the organization is usually unable to break even or make a profit. When Hinder and Theory of a Deadman came last April the concert sold out weeks prior to the night of the show. Bonsall said the group was not surprised that despite an enthusiastic response from the student body, they lost money on the production.
“They look at an $8,000 loss and say that is very acceptable,” he said.
According to Bonsall, the total cost for the Hinder and Theory of a Deadman concert was $76,142. The funding for the event was approved by the Major Events Fund.
For the 2009-10 school year, NAE hopes to next bring Broken Lizard, a comedy group that created movies such as Super Troopers and Beerfest. This event will cost nearly $27,000 from funds that were approved and distributed by the SFC.