Staff Editorial

The few performance venues on campus have regularly hosted drab entertainment for our otherwise well-stimulated college minds, and it is important to consider where these unknown and often irrelevant artists are coming from. While this editorial is not meant to criticize the Student Organization for University Programming or the generous students and staff who work hard every year to provide us with fun and accessible programming, we urge those people to reconsider how they are spending our student dollars.
With the exception of the annual “Big Event,” over 70 percent of the SOUP budget is set aside for acts booked through the National Association for Campus Activities. This organization, while boasting
to provide affordable and efficient programming for colleges, limits the range of potential performances on our campus. $12,500 of the SOUP budget is reserved for an exclusive list of artists and performers with NACA memberships. Those artists who are willing to pay the $614 membership fee earn the privilege of having their material presented to college programmers at NACA conventions all over the country. While NACA is in fact a non-profit organization and provides scholarships and other benefits for colleges in the U.S., the problem still remains that the programming at Lawrence is coming from a remarkably narrow pool.
Just being in Appleton, we have Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities all in relatively close proximity. These cities are teeming with artists, musicians, performers, and comedians who are operating independently of third-party promoters and associations, which add additional costs and, quite often, present inflated images of their clients. Although NACA may streamline the process of campus
programming, with a little more effort Lawrence could reach out to a truer artistic community – one that is more in tune with the goals and aims of Lawrence students. NACA performers who have reached nominal success at schools like Florida State or Brigham Young University aren’t necessarily guaranteed to win the hearts of the Lawrence community. SOUP could instead recruit members from different departments or artistic communities on campus in order to get a better sense of what students are looking for. By making an effort to branch out, Campus Activities could provide a more comprehensive and engaging series of programming for Lawrence students.