In an attempt to give Entertainment Council more flexibility in bringing A-list performers to UC Davis, the ASUCD senate has voted to give the unit a one-time grant of $100,000.
The money was dubbed a ‘large show reserve’ in Senate Bill 77, proposed and authored by Andre Lee, ASUCD senator and senior political science major. Lee said the bill is necessary because Entertainment Council’s current budget system for large-scale entertainment is not effective.
“Entertainment Council receives a subsidy of approximately $90,000 that students pay each year,” he said in an e-mail interview. “About $40,000 of that goes into a budget line item for large shows, but that’s not enough to bring even one top-grade artist to Davis.”
Lee said the primary goal of the bill was to create a new funding mechanism for Entertainment Council’s large shows.
“Instead of providing an ineffective subsidy each year, we are setting aside $100,000 in ASUCD unrestricted reserves to a restricted reserve account for large shows,” he said.
Don Ho, ASUCD controller and senior psychology and environmental policy major, said that no other ASUCD units will suffer as a result of this newly created fund. He said that the money for the fund will come from the ‘unrestricted’ portion of ASUCD’s capital reserves, which currently sits at $1.6 million due to units that consistently breakeven such as the Bike Barn and Coffee House.
“It’s a one-time deal that’s supposed to help be the catalyst for the Entertainment Council to get large-name artists,” he said. “The reserve is meant to kick start [large] shows and hopefully with their success, that money will go back into the reserve.”
Ho also said that the passed bill gives ASUCD more discretion over Entertainment Council’s expenditures.
“We [now] have more discretion over their spending, which is important because [Entertainment Council] has been deficit spending for the past three years,” he said. “They haven’t been the most financially sound ASUCD unit recently.”
Henry Chatfield, Entertainment Council productions coordinator and co-author of the bill, could not be reached for comment.
Lee said the reserve account will be monitored closely and can only be used on two conditions.
“First, the [Entertainment Council] Director must provide a detailed proposal which must be approved unanimously by the ASUCD President, Controller and Business & Finance Commission Chair,” he said. “Second, in order to be approved, any proposal for a large show must break-even in cost at no more than 75 percent of ticket sales.”
Lee explained that this means any show that sells more than 75 percent of its available tickets will add more money to the reserve than it takes out.
Eli Yani, ASUCD senator and senior political science and classics double major, voted no on the bill, pointing to both the break-even percentage rate and Entertainment Council’s planning processes as areas of concern.
“I saw a slew of problems with the bill, ranging from its high percentage for its requirement of being revenue neutral to the fact that [Entertainment Council] doesn’t have experience planning [large] shows like this,” he said in an e-mail interview. “While I feel that the SB 77 had the student’s interests at heart, it was a poor way of fulfilling those interests.”
Out of the 12 ASUCD senators, the eight that are on the BOLD slate voted yes, while three independents, including Yani, voted no. Tatiana Bush, on the LEAD slate, abstained. When asked if the bill’s passing had anything to do with BOLD’s majority power in the ASUCD senate, Yani had no comment.
Despite opposition to the reserve fund, Lee is confident it will be a success because of the required conditions for its use.
“[The bill] adds a layer of accountability to the process, since no less than three people have to approve of a proposal to access the reserve,” he said.
VICTOR BEIGELMAN can be reached at email@example.com.