Student responses to a summer survey measuring music tastes, price ranges and more may lead to more entertainment choices.
A group of students, staff and administrators began meeting in June to brainstorm ways to make students’ experiences on campus more entertaining and have been conducting weekly meetings since. Students’ Association President Rodney Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer Jason Groves, Director of Alumni Relations Craig Fisher, Director of University Events Jennifer Ellison, Allison Garrett, executive vice president of the university, and Amanda Pittman, marketing manager at ACU, make up the committee.
Johnson, senior finance major from Odessa, said bringing entertainment to campus was a key part of his election process and is a goal he will continue to pursue.
“It’s something in high demand, something our student body is longing for,” he said.
The goal, Johnson said, is to bring at least one artist to campus every semester.
“We’re looking at relevant artists that students will care about, and we’re trying to have a well-rounded view of campus before we bring someone in,” he said.
Johnson said Groves voiced his support in bringing more bands to campus last semester, and they formed a committee to better facilitate the mission.
Groves said bringing in an artist would cut costs of gas, food and lodging and will provide a smaller venue for local students.
“What this really does is saves students a trip to Fort Worth or Dallas,” he said.
Johnson tried to secure musician Ben Rector to perform last spring, and got as far as talking with agents, but his efforts hinged on time restrictions and funding and eventually fell apart.
With a genre in mind, Johnson created a survey to get the student body’s thoughts on which artists would be most popular. The survey asked about prices, preference of artists and genres. It was sent out to the entire student body, with around a 1,200-student response – about 33 percent. Johnson found that students preferred an alternative genre with artists like the Avett Brothers and would pay between $20 and $30 for tickets.
Groves said funds for the entertainment would come from corporate sponsors and departments around campus that are willing to provide the money up front.
“There’s not a budget with money earmarked for this,” he said.
Ticket sales would even the costs and money would be given back to the departments.
“A large portion of the cost is on the sound, staging and lighting and all of that,” Groves said. “That provides the awesome experience, but it’s not cheap.”
The concerts will ideally draw people from the entire Abilene area, and cities as far as Lubbock, appealing to a wide majority of college students. A large audience, combined with VIP opportunities and ticket upgrades, would boost revenue for the concerts, Groves said.
He said a festival bringing in a few lesser-known artists is also an option under evaluation.
As of now, Groves said the committee is looking at bringing an artist in mid-November. The decision will be made in the next few weeks but relies heavily on funding, costs and discussions with agents.
“If we feel like we can break even, then we’d secure a band,” he said. “We know music is an important part of people’s lives, and we want to do our best to make a fun, entertaining and incredible experience for students while they’re in Abilene.”