After fees shortfall, Northrop looks ahead

by Parker Lemke

Northrop Concerts and Lectures fought hard in public hearings for more student services fees funding after its initial request wasnâÄôt met. But after receiving a final recommendation that fell far short of its goal, the organizationâÄôs staff decided not to appeal its funding. Instead, the group is adapting programming plans to match its current funding level while also working to ensure it proves itself worthy of increased funds next year. The Student Services Fees Committee allotted Northrop about $178,000 of its more than $400,000 request, a small increase from last yearâÄôs amount. In its final recommendation, the committee said it was impressed by NorthropâÄôs commitment to increasing outreach to the student body but questioned whether some of its expenditures benefit a select group of students over the larger campus community. Northrop Auditorium reopened last April. Since spring 2013, the branch of Northrop charged with coordinating some of its events has received significantly less funding than it has requested. At the same time, it has sought to bring in student-focused programming to match its new state-of-the-art facilities, said Northrop student engagement coordinator Allyson Taubenheim. To give students a chance to see a variety of art performances, Northrop has brought in world-class dance companies and bands and a variety of touring artists, she said, as well as renting space for smaller a cappella concerts and open mics. âÄúNow that the building is there, thatâÄôs great, but we need to make sure we can animate it,âÄù Taubenheim said. As part of their presentation to the committee, NorthropâÄôs advocates promoted the benefits of the buildingâÄôs new space, said Abby Taylor, a University student and Northrop student engagement intern. Because Northrop was closed for so long, she said itâÄôs crucial to re-establish its role to focus more heavily on advocating for art on campus and to give students a place to take part in or experience creative opportunities. âÄúWeâÄôre brand-new, weâÄôre here for students âÄî now we just need the resources to make these things happen,âÄù Taylor said. Moving forward, Taubenheim said staff will determine which programs best align with the groupâÄôs mission under the current budget, but those decisions havenâÄôt been narrowed down yet. In the meantime, the organization may apply for grants and seek outside donations, she said. In a difficult year for making high student service fees requests, Northrop director Christine Tschida said sheâÄôs grateful for the modest fees increase. âÄúWe want to come away from the process with a very positive feeling, and the appeal, in some ways, sort of feels a little bit antagonistic,âÄù she said. To help raise awareness about Northrop as a student destination, Taylor said she helped found University Collaborative Ambassadors for Northrop about a year ago. She currently co-chairs the group. âÄúWe really take students to heart here, and we want to access as many [as] we can,âÄù she said. Although Northrop can measure the number of students who buy tickets to attend events, Tschida said, the group canâÄôt easily track the many students who attend free events or use the buildingâÄôs study lounges. She said Northrop will continue trying to attract more students through outreach, keeping ticket costs low for students and hosting free events. For Taylor, who first became involved with Northrop as a student by attending its shows, not receiving the full request is a little disappointing, but she appreciates the small increase. âÄúWe came at it with a lot of passion and a lot of heart because we really care about what we do,âÄù Taylor said. âÄúWe just have to recalculate and try again.âÄù