Monday, February 11, 2008
Activism in the Arts stage storm
From: Nadesan Permaul
Subject: Review of Activism in the Arts Logistics
Members of the Senate and ASUC Executives,
I was much moved last Wednesday hearing the glowing accounts of the event that took place two weeks ago last Friday, on February 1st; "Activism in the Arts." I expect the ASUC will continue to work with student groups to put on acitivities such as this. I want to draw your attention to the attached correspondence that I received from Cal Performances.
Just as the ASUC Auxiliary utilizes its operations staff to set up for events, and will go to Media Services or SUPERB for specialty events that involve sound and music, so the ASUC government should consider making it policy to require groups to obtain an assessment by such operations programs before major events are scheduled.
SUPERB is the event producer for the ASUC. It makes sense that they should have first right of refusal for the production of major events sponsored by the ASUC if for no other reason than they know the complex logistics of staging such activities. We have that testimony here from both Cal Performances operations staff, and others. I would also caution that ASUC groups cannot expect SUPERB to either underwrite the costs of major events, nor to subsidize them through funding. In the future, I will ask our Student Affairs staff to ensure that prior to authorizing expenditures for major events of this sort, that there is a discussion as to whether we have adequate logistical prep for it. We cannot maintain our relationships with departments like Cal Performances whose facilities and good grace we rely upon, without making sure we handle our logistics appropriately.
That said, I look forward to more excellent student events sponsored and hosted by the ASUC.
Dr. Nadesan Permaul
Director ASUC Auxiliary
Lecturer in Rhetoric and Political Science
Per our discussion at the oversight meeting yesterdeay, here's a summary of the debrief we had with the organizers of the "Activism in the Arts" event held at zellerbach last friday, feb. 1. Atthe meeting were:
Isaac Miller, student & event organizer
Millicent Morris-Cheney, ASUC sponsor
Giuliana Blasi, SLL
Tim House, manager of the group, Zion-I
Doug Warrick, Calperfs General Manager
Amy Ferrara, Calperfs event manager
Tracy Teel, Calperfs Audience services manager
The main reason the meeting was called was because, very near the end of the show as Zion I was performing, things got a little beyond our control:
Although there were no injuries, and the stage was cleared without incident, this is not the typeof thing we like to see happen in the hall.
In brief, it was lack of preparation on our part, and the part of the organizer that 'set the stage' for this to happen. We did not have adequate staff on hand to prevent the large number of people to get to the stage because we did not anticipate such an occurrence, and the organizer didn't have the experience at producing events to understand the necessity for that sort of precaution. Overall, the event was not well organized, there were program changes up to the last
day, and the organizers were not well equipped to produce the show itself, nor were they especially adept at communicating the needs of the production with our staff.
It is my belief that had SUPERB been involved with the promotion and production of this event, their staff would have been aware of the potential for such an occurrence, and we would have been able to work with them to assure that our preparation would have been sufficient, not only for thesafety of the performers and audience, but for the overall quality of the show.
Cal Performances facilitates the use of Zellerbach, the Greek, and Wheeler for any campus department, including the ASUC, for a wide variety of events. We see our role as providing the space, the equipment, and a limited amount of production advice to these users. We generally do not provide a full range of production services. We depend on the campus sponsor or the act(s) they are bringing, to fully understand their own requirements and communicate those to us so we can give them the best reproduction of their performance possible. Occasionally though, as in this case, a show is put together that requires more coordination on the producing side than we are
able to provide. This is exactly the sort of thing that SUPERB exists to do.
In the future, I would very much like to see the students of SUPERB be involved with events such as this one, particularly those that come to us under the umbrella of ASUC sponsorship. I realize of course that this may increase their workload, and I know that their participation in SUPERB represents a significant commitment of time beyond their academic obligations at Cal. But I also believe that a more active participation in this way will help them be recognized as partners and
collaborators with other student groups in bringing performances and events targeted at the student population. They bring the necessary knowledge, experience, and skills to event production that the organizers typically lack, and that we typically do not have the time or resources to provide. They can even sometimes save the organizers money, since we allow SUPERB to staff events, reducing our costs, in a way we do not permit any other group to do. We only do this because wehave assurance SUPERB is capable of doing so.
During the debrief meeting, Tim House, the manager of Zion I, said he was surprised that SUPERB was not involved in the event, since his group has performed at Cal on other occasions under the sponsorship of SUPERB. He added that the group has performed at many college campuses all across the country, many of which have student run presenters like SUPERB, and of all the places they've been, SUPERB stands out as the best in every way, from organization, to professionalism, torespect for the needs of artists and audience. The Berkeley campus is very fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented group of students who are so committed to this part of campus life, andwhen they are excluded from participation in events like this one, no one benefits.
Finally, I am more than happy to do whatever I can to help facilitate a working model for more SUPERB involvement in ASUC sponsored activities. I believe that with a little thought and planning this the added workload will be manageable and minimal (the number of events annually are prettysmall), the events will be better managed, and there is huge potential for the Senate torecognize, and hopefully acknowledge, the value of SUPERB to the ASUC and the campus.
Tom Hansen, Production Director
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