AS Concerts and Events (ASCE) proposed a six percent budget increase for the upcoming Sun God Festival—totaling $50,000—at the Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) Senate meeting last Wednesday. Currently, the festival has $750,000 allocated from the ASUCSD budget, including $20,000 for contingency.
The proposal, presented by ASCE Senior Associate Vice President Nancy Xu, would dedicate 50 percent of the increased budget toward booking more prominent artists, while the remaining funds would go towards other programming elements.
In addition to seeking out more recognized artists, ASCE has also decided to limit artist performances to one stage. According to ASCE Festivals Director Jake Valley, planned changes to the festival this year are in response to student input.
“We are looking to condense the festival’s footprint in order to focus our resources on elements that the students value, such as talent, to make the festival something the students will enjoy,” said ASCE Festivals Director Jake Valley. “In our surveys, we have seen that students are looking for bigger name talent.”
Valley states that none of the intended budget increase would go towards security costs, typically a major portion of the festival budget. Last year, ASCE spent $252,088 (31 percent of the total expense) on safety and security alone after receiving criticism and pressure from administrators for Sun God’s recurring student intoxication and casualties. As a result, only 15 percent of the total expense went to booking performers.
ASCE is still projected to spend less than last year’s total expenses: $811,953. ASUCSD Financial Controller Nathan Park has voiced support for the proposal.
“Sun God received a monetary increase of $200,000 two years ago, but most of these costs were to cover security and operating costs and the $180,000 deficit from loss of guest ticket sales,” Park explained. “The current proposal will cover many of our students’ requests, such as new shade areas, more money for talent, water slide, and the silent disco—rather than security, safety, or administrative costs.”
However, Park asserted that this proposal would be a temporary fix. “While AS has the finances to cover the Sun God Festival increase this year, more increases to Sun God Festival may be unsustainable unless AS either increases our [student activity] fee again or starts reducing the funds of our other services in the near future.”
ASCE could not provide this year’s budget breakdown or the presentation they made at the AS Senate meeting to The Triton at this time, citing “challenges to [the] booking process” if the spreadsheet were sent to external parties when communicating with agencies.
During the presentation, Xu announced that ASCE plans to release the lineup for Sun God Festival 2019 during the first week of March.
Sylvia O is a Staff Writer for The Triton.