Sep 212011
 
Authors: Allison Sylte

For most attendees, the Aug. 26 B.O.B/Sean Kingston concert started at 6:30 p.m. and only lasted for a couple of blissful, hip-hop filled hours.

But for Association for Student Activity Programming (ASAP) volunteers, it was a multiple month long ordeal, part of a complicated process that involved conceiving the show, booking the acts, negotiating with agents, hashing out contracts, getting people to show up, setting up the outdoor venue, taking down the outdoor venue and finally cleaning up.

“For a big concert like that, it’s crazy. It’s all hands on deck. It’s insane,” said Avery Kahn, concert coordinator for ASAP and a senior business management major.

ASAP Executive Coordinator Nick Eppley echoed this sentiment.

“For shows like B.O.B, the concert itself is the easiest part,” Eppley said. “But during that day, we basically worked from 5 a.m. until one in the morning the next day, trying to make sure everything operated smoothly.”

ASAP is the entirely student-run group responsible for bringing acts like B.O.B and Ludacris to campus, as well as coordinating numerous smaller events throughout the year.

It has more than 50 employees and volunteers and has an operating budget of $500,000 a year paid for by a student fee. Eppley said ASAP has the unique task of trying to organize events that appeal to the largest and most diverse contingent of students as possible.

“Part of our mission is in line with the [Lory Student Center’s] mission, which is to make a transformational impact on CSU students, be it through winning at bingo night at the Ramskeller to just the sense of community that comes from seeing a concert with fellow students,” Eppley said.

ASAP is divided into five different committees: concerts, comedy and film, contemporary issues, special events and marketing. These committees are responsible for choosing and coordinating the specific events that fall under their subcategory.

Each semester, ASAP employees participate in a cut meeting, where they plan the big events for the next semester. Bigger events, like concerts or comedy acts, are chosen based on a combination of student input, availability and budget restraints.

Contracts are then drawn up between ASAP and artists. Once the contracts have been finalized, the marketing department takes over, tasked with exposing the event to the largest portion of the student body possible.

“When we market to students, we try to really focus on what’s unique, and we try to make everything interesting and recognizable,” said Evan Barrett, a senior marketing major.

While Eppley said marketing is a huge factor in the success of different ASAP performances, other factors play even larger roles in attendance to ASAP events, which he said are difficult to predict and present unique challenges.

One such example is the 2010 Pepper/Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Spring Concert, a $100,000 dollar endeavor that drew 2,200 students — filling up less than a quarter of Moby Arena.

“For that concert, there were a lot of explaining factors,” Eppley said. “One thing was that Pepper gave a free show at Copper [Mountain] the week before. While we had a clause in his contract mandating that he not perform within a 100 miles, that’s a special case because it’s somewhere a lot of students go. It’s something we learn from, and try to improve in the future.”

Another determining attendance factor is class schedules. Midterms, Eppley said, contributed to the less-than-capacity turnout at last semester’s Josh Gracin concert. Price, he said, also plays a role.

“We have to have students pay. Usually, it’s just a logistical thing,” Eppley said. “But since you’re paying fees, it’s our responsibility to do our best to make our events far less than market value, something students can actually afford and want to go to.”

Drawing artists students are interested in is another challenge altogether. Student input is solicited as often as possible, Kahn said, and on top of appealing to the broadest base possible, another one of his tasks is having shows that appeal to certain niches of students.

“It’s tough to please everybody, but we try to please as many people as we can,” Kahn said. “At the end of the day, we’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that we can’t make everyone happy.”

And frustratingly enough, Eppley said, sometimes things happen that aren’t necessarily ASAP’s fault. Comedian Chris Tucker’s cancellation (his show was slated for Friday night) is an example.

“It sucked. It was not a good day in the office when we heard about that,” Eppley said.

“If things go wrong, we just try to take them in stride and see what we can learn from them,” said Ally Kozeny, ASAP’s comedy coordinator and a senior agricultural business major. “But when we heard Chris Tucker had cancelled, it was not a good day, because we’ve already put so much effort into it. It was beyond our control.”

But Eppley, Kahn, Barrett and Kozeny agree that outside of the occasional bad day, ASAP’s office is usually an energetic and vibrant work environment.

“The people here are the best. They’re a big part of what makes it worthwhile,” Kozeny said. “They’re really passionate about what they do, and it makes every day here different. There’s no real ‘average’ day in the office.”

Eppley remembers how last semester, Nick Verreos, a fourth-place Project Runway contestant who ASAP brought to speak, spent almost an entire day in the organization’s Lory Student Center office, chatting with different employees.

“He was a pretty cool guy,” Eppley said, adding that because of ASAP, he has gotten to meet quite a few celebrities, including B.O.B.

“B.O.B. was cool too. Really a nice, sincere guy,” he added.

While they admit there are bumps around the road, for Eppley, Kahn, Barrett and Kozeny, the most fulfilling part of their job is seeing the final product, when all of their months-long efforts have come together.

“Seeing people smiling and have a good time at a show you helped organize, it’s a pretty good feeling,” Kahn said.

_Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at verve@collegian.com. _

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