It was a sparkling late-summer day yesterday for my swan song as Performing Arts Guy down on Home Campus. Blue skies. Mid-70sF. The kind of day that begs for people to sit outside with their lunch and listen to good music played by a singer/songwriter on a guitar, especially a singer that has a sense of humor.
My official position as Performing Arts Guy got phased out this summer as part of the ongoing reorganization that happens after several years of unanesthetized chain-saw budget surgery imposed from above. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, and to be honest I can’t say I disagreed with the decision either.
If you’re willing to work with performers – take whatever dates they can give you, especially midweek gigs that slot nicely between other things they’re doing in the region, be accommodating and attentive about their requirements, and so on – they’re usually willing to work with you to make things happen. They’ll cut their prices, work around obstacles, and generally make your life easier and more fun. I’ve had a few of them stay in my own home to save hotel fees, in fact. They put on some great shows. And some of those performers have become real friends.
But if we got two dozen people in the audience, it was good night. We’re a commuter campus and most of our students work part-time or even full-time jobs to make ends meet. They’ve got families. It’s hard to get them to come to events on campus once their classes let out.
Let’s face it: Home Campus spent a lot of money to get me to meet interesting people, and while I have always appreciated those opportunities the fact is that in a budgetary climate where we sometimes have trouble hiring instructors it wasn’t a great use of funds. My boss brought me in last year to break the news to me about the job and I think I surprised her when I said I would have made the same decision.
While I have been privileged to work with some genuinely professional people who worked hard to make my job trouble-free, this particular singer is perhaps the easiest act I ever booked. His manager calls me up and I say, “Same deal as last year?” and he says, “Sure, pick a date.” The singer asks for two platforms and access to electricity, and his tech guy sets everything up and tears it down. And that’s about it. Plus, he gives a great show. So when his manager called this year, I said sure – I’ll volunteer this one.
We managed to get a decent crowd, in part because we always schedule this concert for lunchtime just outside the dining commons. And this particular singer has enough of a local following that we can bring people in just for that. One of my students sat down with me for much of the concert, which was good of him.
It was a nice way to bow out, there in the sunshine, listening to good music.