Staff Editorial: Program Board drops the ball in artist debacle

For those of you who have been trying to figure out the Fall Fest lineup, your guess has been as good as ours. The latest announcement has Virginia Coalition as the headliner, but at the rate we’ve been going, who knows?

On Friday, the University decided not to sign its $15,000 contract with scheduled artist Girl Talk. The artist required that there be no barriers so that students could join him on stage; the University decided there would be too much risk involved in a non-barricaded show and refused to sign the contract.

The mere fact that Program Board and the University were still involved in contract issues with a potential headliner eight days before Fall Fest was irresponsible and reprehensible.

While Program Board doubtless began its search for a headlining artist earlier in the game, and extenuating circumstances may have conspired, the bottom line is that students deserve to know the lineup more than a few days in advance. PB Chair Tiffany Meehan ran on a platform last spring of being able to deliver big-name performers, and Program Board’s responsibilities include only two major shows a year – Fall Fest and Spring Fling. With the monetary and human resources devoted to the organization, they should be able to announce a notable headliner – and not at the last minute.

The situation with Girl Talk was poorly handled. Negotiations began Aug. 4 for a Sept. 6 show, and despite confirming with Girl Talk’s agent, the University chose to pull out with only a week remaining before the concert. Risk management is important, but Girl Talk had successfully performed over 75 college shows, most recently at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Officials there also had concerns, but thanks to negotiation, the officials, students and artist were all satisfied.

Hopefully, students will flock to University Yard regardless of whatever replacement Program Board procures. But the University and Program Board’s actions in this case may make it difficult to secure future acts.

Big-name artists and their managers usually don’t enjoy last-minute cancellations, and students deserve more than a guessing game from Program Board.

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