The Office of Student Life allocated approximately $30,000 to book artists for Yardfest this year, a sum that planners said limited their ability to attract big name perfomers, according to a number of students with knowledge of Yardfest planning.
Many students complained about this year’s artist lineup, which included The Cataracs, Das Racist, and 3LAU.
Students involved in the College Events Board and Harvard College Concert Commission, the two organizations responsible for planning Yardfest, said they were severely limited by their budget.
CEB Co-Chair Emily S. Rutter ’13, who is also a Crimson sports editor, spoke positively of the administration’s interactions with the CEB but said that their planning was hindered by a low budget.
“As a leader of the CEB, I feel that the budget we are given is not enough,” Rutter wrote in an email. “We allocate our budget to several college-wide events; but with Yardfest, an event that is arguably our biggest, I think that we should be given more money to put into it so we get an even better result.“
According to the website for Pretty Polly Productions, which several students said the College uses to book artists for Yardfest, the Cataracs charge between $15,000 and $25,000 and Das Racist between $7,500 and $10,000 per show. 3LAU was not listed on the Pretty Polly website.
While other schools allow the organizers of spring concerts to raise revenue by charging for tickets, students said that Harvard’s administration does not allow the CEB or HCC to do the same.
Students used to be charged for tickets to Springfest—the event that Yardfest replaced in 2006. According to Assistant Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich, lackluster attendence and sporadic ticket sales at Springfest were among the reasons why the College decided to stop charging admission.
“It is clear that no artist lineup will make everyone happy, but food, music, friends, and games in the Yard can bring the campus community together.” Friedrich wrote in an email. “The opportunity for every student to attend Yardfest without charge is an important value that informs how the event is planned for our community.”
Friedrich declined to comment on the size of Yardfest’s budget.
Students said that beyond being limited by money, many artists were unavailable because this year’s Yardfest overlapped with the weekend of the Coachella Music Festival. The administration determines the time and the location of Yardfest.
Other schools have different models for organizing their spring concerts. The University of Pennsylvania charges $35 general admission to its Spring Fling concert, which featured Passion Pit and Tiësto this year. The bulk of the funding for Yale University’s Spring Fling comes from a student activities fee of $75 that undergraduates can choose to opt out of. Yale’s 2012 concert included T-Pain, Passion Pit, and 3LAU.
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