LMP Concerts: Worth the Money?

On Aug. 29, The Western Carolinian sent an open records request to Rotimi Ariyo, associate director for programs at the University Center, requesting “access to and a copy of annual budget allocations from Student Affairs for Last Minute Productions as well as expenditures related to concerts produced by Last Minute Productions and any revenue gained from said concerts from 2006 to 2012,” in accordance with the state open records law, N.C. Gen. Stat. Secs. 132-1 to 132-10.

It was requested that there would be a response within 10 business days, a typical timeframe for open records requests. An email was finally received on Oct. 15, a response time of 47 days.

The email was from Kim Corelli, University Center administrative support associate,and included Last Minute Production (LMP) documents that, according to Corelli, University Center Director Jeff Hughes told her to scan and email to The Western Carolinian.

According to these documents, Hughes received them from Donna Reynolds, executive assistant of student affairs, on Sept. 19 and sent them to Ariyo the same day.

The documents included the LMP budget allocations from 2006-2013, as well as a ticket office statement from the (Bardo Fine) and Performing Arts Center of “An Evening with Bo Burnham,” an event that took place on Oct. 26, 2011, as well as revenue and expenses from the Fabolous concert, dated Oct. 29.

According to the budget allocations, LMP received $161,504 in 2006, $192,427 in 2007, $195,627 in 2008, $200,000 annually from 2009-2012, and $225,000 in 2013, this school year.

In an interview with Ariyo, he said of the increased budget for this school year, “It helps us sign better artists. During the summer, I give the students a range of budgets, and the students select the artists. I teach them how to go out and negotiate with the artists as well.”

The records did not include revenue and expenses from the following concerts, those of which have taken place during Ariyo’s tenure at LMP: Travis Porter and 3OH!3 from Sept. 26,; We the Kings and Ryan Cabrera from Mar. 17, 2011,; Fabolous and Lyfe Jennings from Oct. 29, 2010; and Jeremih from Oct. 9, 2010.

According to Ariyo, he “misunderstood” what the open records request was asking for. After the lack of records received, The Western Carolinian petitioned the Controller’s Office to obtain the complete LMP records but was never given a response.

Upon request for additional records, Ariyo responded by sending artist booking price information and a breakdown of the revenue and expenses from the 3OH!3/Travis Porter concert.

From the additional records received from Ariyo on Nov. 29, it was found that LMP paid the following booking prices:

Electropop duo 3OH!3 received $26,000, and hip-hop act Travis Porter received $15,000 for their joint concert at the Bardo Arts Center on Sept. 26.

For their joint concert in the UC Grand Room on Mar. 17, 2011, pop-punk band We the Kings were paid $14,000, and pop-rock singer Ryan Cabrera received $4,000.

For their joint concert in the Ramsey Center on Oct. 29, 2010, LMP paid $20,000 to book R&B artist Fabolous and $15,000 for Lyfe Jennings, another R&B artist.

According to the revenue and expenses statement, 403 tickets were sold for $6,662 in total revenue for the Fabolous concert. After expenses, including $974.50 for ticket sellers and $796.48 for stage hands, LMP only received $3,507.95 with $389.78 going to the Student Government Association.

Singer Jeremih was paid $10,400 for his performance in the UC Grand Room on Oct. 9, 2010.

Along with the cost of booking each of the artists, the additional records included a breakdown of revenue from the 3OH!3 and Travis Porter concert. The breakdown included two revenue/expense documents, making no distinction between the artists.

According to the first document on that breakdown, there were 356 tickets sold for a net total of $9,450 (student ticket prices were $25 and $30). After the BAC rental fee, admission tax, credit card fees, box office, stage crew and supplies billed $1,555 in expenses, a total of $7,895 was raised.

On the second document, it stated that 776 tickets were sold for a total of $8,400 (student ticket prices were $10 and $15). Minus $1,440 in expenses (the $259.50 credit card fee was paid by FPAC this time), that meant a total of $6,960 in revenue.

Overall, 1,132 tickets were sold for a total of $14,855. Compared to the $41,000 paid to book 3OH!3 and Travis Porter, the revenue gained is miniscule in comparison. Also, under 2,000 tickets are sold out, but there are over 9,000 students, according to Western Carolina’s “About WCU” webpage, causing speculation that LMP does not book artists that the mass majority of students enjoy.

“I never felt like the concert was all that great when it comes to the feel of an actual concert, and I was never interested in the musicians playing,” said communications major Matson Henderson, who never attended an LMP concert.

“I think they’ve done a better job this year, than in previous years,” said social work major Matthew Patterson, who has only attended two concerts since arriving at WCU in 2009. “I mean even though I didn’t see the 3Oh!3 concert, I saw it as a change from the old line ups in previous years. I think LMP should conduct or continue to conduct student surveys on the bands or artists that interest the students. I also feel like LMP could look into promoting local bands in the Cullowhee and Asheville area. Also, less country would be nice,” he added.

Josh Jones, a student since 2010, said he has only attended one concert, but it was due to his hectic rehearsal schedule. However, he said that LMP does provide for students.

“Like with 3Oh!3 this year, that was a good idea. Sometimes, they’re a little dated though,” said Jones. “I wish I could go to more of them. I know when I have done that I’ve really enjoyed them.”

Student Seth Sherrin agreed.

“I understand that we are a smaller school, and it is harder to get bigger artists, but I think they do pretty well,” he said.

To account for the lack of adequate records, Ariyo stated that they “take money at the door” for concerts in the UC Grand Room and therefore do not have hard records for those concerts.

As for the concerts at the Bardo Arts Center, Ariyo said that they have their own ticket system and therefore LMP does not have those records. However, the records received by The Western Carolinian originally included ticket statements from BAC.

The lack of records received after the open records request and the untimeliness (47 days) of the response to that request is a sign of a problem, but the lack of the records kept by LMP and the small amount of revenue gained by its concerts compared to the large booking prices of the artists is a troubling dilemma.