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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Spring Concert canceled after 24 years

Mac Miller, the 2017 spring concert performer, performes in Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s Spring Concert will not take place this year for the first time in 24 years.

The concert has been held since 1996 in the Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena, formerly known as The Alumni Memorial Field House. Sugar Ray (1999), Busta Rhymes/ Naughty by Nature (2001), Lupe Fiasco/ Trey Songz (2008), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (2013), Panic! At the Disco (2016) and Mac Miller (2017) are a few of the big name celebrities who have performed at the annual event.

University Student Senate (USS) President Adam Mullin ’20 said USS spearheaded the review process that resulted in the decision to cancel this year’s concert. In the fall 2019 semester, student senators collected feedback through tabling outside of Campion Dining Hall and individual conversations with peers. USS also sent out a survey to the student body to gain feedback.

“There was strong polarization,” Mullin said. “A decent number of people said, ‘Hey, the Spring Concert means a lot. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.’ Then, a number of people were like, ‘It’s a waste. I’ve never gone, whatever.’ Then people in the middle.”

Beth Hagovsky, Ed.D., director of Student Leadership and Activities, said the survey only received about 200 responses.

“Of those 200, we didn’t have this outcry for people saying things like, ‘Please don’t take the concert away,’” Hagovksy said.

Hagovsky said it is difficult to get high-profile acts to perform on college campuses in urban areas like St. Joe’s.

“We live in Philadelphia, and you all have access to far superior concert venues than Hagan Arena whenever you want,” Hagovsky said. “National acts, people that we would want to come here, have access to those same venues all the time. They stand to make far more money at those venues than they do when they play a college show.”

During the initial planning stages for this year’s concert, those involved explored both traditional musical performers as well as big name comedians, according to Mullin.

“We ultimately even put out a bid for John Mulaney,” Mullin said. “After John Mulaney had come to Villanova [University], we said, ‘okay let’s put forth a bid.’ And unfortunately, after initial negotiations, his contracting firm didn’t respond back to our final contracting.”

Each year, a portion of the $100 student activity fee is allocated to put on the concert. This year, $111,000 was allocated in the budget for the event. Ultimately, that’s not enough to lure a big-name entertainer, Hagovsky said.

“There’s always been that challenge around being able to get the acts that we know you all would probably want to have in our price point,” Hagovksy said. “We just can’t do it, and they’re not interested.”

Mullin also said even the amount that is allocated for the concert is hard to justify for “a one-time event that only reaches a limited portion of the population.”

Ticket sales for previous spring concerts have fluctuated over the past five years, pointing toward a decline in student interest. Last year’s concert, headlined by Sean Kingston and DJ Pauly D, sold 1,259 tickets, according to Megan Azzalina, assistant director of Student Leadership and Activities. In 2018, 2,114 tickets were sold for T-Pain and Waka Flocka Flame, but in 2016 only 992 tickets were sold for Panic! At the Disco.

These fluctuating sales are “not a particularly sustainable way of maintaining a program,” Hagovksy said.

Mullin sent out an email on Feb. 14 to various campus organization leaders announcing that funds allocated for the 2020 Spring Concert will now be made available to other organizations on campus. The application to apply for a portion of the concert funds is now open through a Google Form which was emailed to student organizations.

Mullin said the surplus funds from the spring concert will be allocated to various projects proposed by campus partners. Any requests to obtain these funds must have a “direct impact on the student body” and take greater funding than typical events. Smaller requests should still be made through the Student Budget Allocations Committee, according to Mullin.

The applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until March 31, and representatives from the Student Activity Fee Review Committee will make the final ruling on where funds go.

“We want it to get spent,” Hagovksy said. “It’s student dollars. It should be spent on things that can engage students at St. Joe’s and provide programming that is appealing to students.”

Nic Schoppe ’22, co-president of Hawk Hill Productions (HHP), said HHP would like to utilize the funds in the future to boost Hawka-Palooza—another large scale community event held during the spring semester each year featuring performers such as David Dobrik and Josh Peck in past years.

“We are trying to get funds from Senate, and from the overall funds that were for the Spring Concert, to see if we can enhance Hawka-Palooza this year and use some of that money to bring in a bigger and better act,” Schoppe said. 

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