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Monday, October 25, 2021

Entertainment Council reveals secrets of the trade

This year, the ASUCD Entertainment Council, the student-run group that organizes on-campus concerts and other events, has been reeling in artists left and right. As the anticipated Social Distortion, RJD2 and Snoop Dogg concerts approach, members of the Entertainment Council offered a peek into how a group of students organizes A-list shows and a packed lineup of movie screenings, quad shows and more.

Council director and senior psychology major Perry Sanesanong said that the process of booking an event on the MU patio or quad requires some extensive planning ahead of time, especially because of the timing and location.

“We would first have to reserve the area and we’re only allotted sound from noon to 1 p.m., so it is an hour show, no more, no less,” Sanesanong said. “And we can’t do sound check until noon because of the loud sound and surrounding classes.”

On the other hand, loud sound is not an issue in Freeborn Hall where Stephanie Eich, associate director of events for Campus Union, works.

“When it is inside, it does not matter,” Eich said. “But outside, we have to follow policy, especially since Wellman Hall is so close, and you have to have good sound.”

Swasti Reddy, one of the co-assistant directors of the Entertainment Council and a senior international agricultural development major, knows how precious and critical timing can be. She said that negotiating contracts for a live band gets pretty hectic.

“We have to get in touch with the contract manager Mark Champagne and he helps us read over contracts that bands bring in to us because they want their checks the day of the show,” Reddy said. “It can be anywhere from two weeks to six weeks for that contract to go through, especially for major bands who come through here.”

Tim Zamanigan, another Council co-assistant director and a junior English major, said that the steps that they take to make sure that everything has been done takes preparation well before the day of the show.

“We try to plan the entire quarter during the first couple weeks, if not before that,” Zamanigan said.

Freeborn Hall poses other challenges as far as booking procedures. Eich said that there are two ways that Freeborn Hall and the Entertainment Council go through preparation for a big event.

“Our facility manager at Freeborn, Cecilia, helps the EC in arranging all their facility needs and helps them with some of the parking issues, but EC takes care of the production, the lighting, the sound, and the artist’s needs and hospitality needs and that gets expensive when we start talking about hospitality; they get really particular,” Eich said.

“But then we do have off-campus promoters who bring shows to campus and usually they’ll contact us first, myself actually. Then we’ll work out how to get them through to the EC and see if the EC wants to be a co-sponsor, which is a good example of 30 Seconds To Mars, Snoop Dogg and Social Distortion,” she said.

So how does the Entertainment Council handle having such big names on campus? Reddy said that when Jason Mraz was on campus for a performance, she had to maintain her composure for the sake of professionalism.

“My hand was shaking,” Reddy said. “Honestly, we do this because we love it and that’s why we bring artists we love on campus and it has given us a sense of pride that we can do all of this and it’s only winter quarter.”

Next up, the Council has bands like Daphne Loves Derby lined up to take the stage. They are also planning a return of the Spring Quad shows, in which they hope to feature a cappella groups.

As for movie nights, Reddy said that they’ll be presenting Indiana Jones in collaboration with the Anthropology Club this Friday and next Wednesday there will be a Heath Ledger tribute. Zamanigan said that frequent movie nights will be back…soon.

“The international films are going to come later in the quarter since we don’t have our cinema coordinators here with us and we’re still trying to figure out the films for that, too, but that’s something we’re looking forward to,” Zamanigan said. “And then in the spring we’re going to have our quad movies again on Friday nights since it’s too cold right now.”

Single Awareness Night, which is another event that Entertainment Council has put on annually for the past few years, is a charity event that will be taking place at The Grad.

“It’s for Cal Aggie Camp,” Reddy said. “We raise money by auctioning off senators and having a dance party.”

But the Entertainment Council is not too big on dance parties. It’s all about concerts, inside or outside, day or night and live music with big or locally big names.

However, the Council does want to return to a previous tradition at the Mondavi Center soon.

“We’re working on having [movies] at Mondavi,” Sanesanong said.

As for the Entertainment Council in general, Eich is pleased at how they turned out this year.

“I love the EC; we’ve got a really great team this year,” Eich said. “I’m really impressed with what they’re doing and what they’re supporting and I’m just really hoping that in the future we’ll continue to see a number of shows that we’re experiencing now.”

LEA MURILLO can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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