Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Despite all the many memorable and fun events this semester, many Swatties may still feel like there is something missing. That something is probably our annual Large Scale Event, traditionally held in the Fall Semester. This semester, despite LSE committee’s well endeavored attempts to host a LSE this fall semester, unusual circumstances and delays have forced the committee members to move the LSE to early spring.
Traditionally, LSE committee members brainstorm ideas throughout the summer and come up with a ranked list of potential artists and bands by late July. From there, Paury Flowers, Student Activities Coordinator, contacts the appropriate agents in late August/early September. Normally, the LSE plan is finalized in mid-September. This year, the process hit several large logistical snags.
Miscommunication between agents and the Dean’s Office was the major problem that Flowers and the committee faced. In early September, Flowers sent an offer to invite Janelle Monae as the LSE. Unfortunately, there was very slow communication between the agent and Flowers.
According to Flowers, Monae at that time was very high in demand and it was difficult to schedule a potential performance at Swarthmore; she was on a global tour and scheduling a potential Saturday Night Live appearance. In her email offer, Flowers attached a deadline—asking Monae to reply back within the week—however, since Flowers and LSE committee chair David Wilikofsky ’12 anticipated strong student body support for Monae, they ended up extending the deadline for another two weeks.
Wilikofsky explains, “We were very invested in that artist, and it seemed like she was going to come to Swarthmore. However, her agent ended up stalling and we waited three weeks for a response.”
By the end of September, Flowers and Wilikofsky decided to terminate the offer because “too much time had elapsed and the agent would not give us a straight answer,” Wilikofsky said.
After the termination of Monae’s offer, the LSE committee members started over on the artist/band deliberation process and named ten to twelve artists to potentially bring to campus. However, by then, it was already the beginning of October and there was only be a month to two months notice for a big-name artist to perform at Swarthmore. Flowers describes, “At that point, in October, committee members just started naming people and asking, are they available, how much it [would] cost, etc… It was a downward spiral. Every name they said, I would pursue them, and it wouldn’t work.”
Flowers was still calling agents into mid-October, when she and the committee realized that, for logistical reasons, it would make sense to move the LSE to the spring semester. The committee also believed that they could secure a better artist this way.
The Lang Performing Arts Center theatre was booked for almost the entire semester and gave the committee only one or two dates for the LSE. Flowers elaborated, “…because of the constraints of the LPAC venue with Cooper and all the other events they put on, the only dates we had to work with were in November and if people didn’t fit into those dates, that put us in a really tough position.” Additionally, there was not enough notice for the LPAC tech team to request appropriate outside special equipment at a decent price.
In addition to logistical issues, the committee members, Wilikofsky, and Flowers decided to move the LSE into early spring in hopes of securing a quality artist. Committee members were more comfortable with inviting an artist with mass campus appeal and felt more comfortable with waiting until the next semester.
Klara Aizupitis ’13, a LSE committee member, described, “While we could have put something together for this semester, ultimately we felt that it was the best choice to wait and get someone we really wanted, rather than just getting whomever could come this semester.”
Even though these types of communication issues are historically very atypical of the LSE planning process, the committee and Flowers will most likely not wait again for such a long period of time to book the artist or band. Flowers promises, “It probably won’t happen to us again, it was a learning year for me.”
Overall, committee members and Flowers felt frustrated with the process this semester, but are optimistic for the spring. Although it was a situation that Flowers and members could not have fixed, Wilikofsky said, “I think that many people are frustrated on the committee and in the Dean’s Office, including me. It is hard to put that much work into something and have it not work out.”
Indeed, members and Flowers have put a lot of time and effort in the entire selection process, especially for committee members who contacted 60 to 100 acts over the summer, shared 150 inter-group emails, writing an extensive Google doc list, and waiting for long periods of no communication.
On the other hand, the committee members and Flowers are very excited for next semester’s LSE. The date is projected to be in late January and Flowers recently sent an offer to an artist from whom she should be hearing back any day now.