ad by all. What could possibly go wrong? The result though was almost two-thirds of the available tickets remaining unsold, organiser Jason Rose facing a phenomenal personal loss of upwards of £2,000, and the event being mired with bickering between YUSU and the University.
The promotion was certainly lacklustre; many found out about the gig just days before the event. It resulted in a horrendous shortfall in ticket sales, which means that we must ask: where was the promotion? Where were the posters, the flyers, the word of mouth? Surely, with the reach of the Christian Union behind it, 13:3 could manage a bit more than a Facebook group and a 17 second video. Perhaps holding the event on the same evening as election results night was futile, and poster-space around campus was probably compromised with the ubiquity of electioneering fluff last week, but still, the organisation of 13:3 evidently didn’t help. Organisational issues aside however, it is the welfare question that raises more concern.
Roses’ significant financial loss raises the obvious questions as to how it could be allowed to happen, but the welfare storm it has created has the wrong target: it is not the University admin at fault. YUSU have been caught dreadfully short, and they are desperately trying to shift the blame.
The University’s responsibility is, as they have said, to only ensure that health and safety regulations are kept to, and that the staff and resources required to do this are covered financially. Criticising them for not doing more is counter-intuitive, especially as they have expressed a clear desire for greater involvement in event organisation. Instead of attacking them, YUSU should be working with the University to ensure that the suitable procedures safeguarding student welfare are in place. That YUSU aren’t making moves to discuss the issue and have instead rushed into an offensive creates the feeling that they are more concerned with covering their own backs than organising the provision of comprehensive welfare.
Organisational issues aside, it is the welfare question that raises more concern
More ominous yet is the suggestion by Lewis Bretts that all this would have been avoided if Rose went through YUSU. This has the potential to immensely restrict future events, as organisers might feel that they will lack protection from financial problems if they try and go it alone. 13:3 shouldn’t have to be a YUSU event to qualify for assistance. Since when did student welfare only apply if it was YUSU-approved?
Bretts’ offer of personal assistance also rings hollow: the offer and infrastructure to help should have been there before Rose invested and lost so much money. If there is a welfare gap, that gap should be filled by YUSU. After all, it is YUSU, and not necessarily the University, who must concern themselves with the welfare of students. They must act to reassure students that the protection will be there in the future.
With the grim state of live music on campus, this is one set back that we cannot afford to have. Whilst the recent relaunch of Alcuin’s B Henry’s as a live music venue goes some way to address the problem, and the continuing open-mic nights are an important outlet for musical talent, we need these big events to jump-start a general campus-based live music culture. Jason Rose has to be commended for staking so much on bringing such a large event to campus, and the first Central Hall gig in nearly twenty years should be celebrated.
However YUSU’s response to the event’s financial failure certainly should not. Their attack on the University illustrates a rushed attempt to conceal a worryingly large welfare issue, and suggests very little will within YUSU to address it. That this has denied any profits reaching charity is a shame. That it might result in putting off students from attempting similar scale events in the future though is a disgrace.