Tuesday, July 16

JazzReggae Festival organizers explore alternate funding strategies

The JazzReggae Festival, an annual event, will not be funded by USAC surplus money this year, though in the past it received about $50,000.

The JazzReggae Festival, an annual event, will not be funded by USAC surplus money this year, though in the past it received about $50,000. Daily Bruin file photo / Daily Bruin

Some UCLA students expect to front more of their own money to help organize this year’s JazzReggae Festival after the undergraduate student government took back $40,000 it originally allocated to the event.

The festival, held every Memorial Day weekend at UCLA, attracts thousands of attendees and features an array of artists, along with food vendors from across the country. A loss in funds this year may also result in higher ticket prices, more local bands instead of headliners and a decrease in funds available for other Cultural Affairs Commission events.

On Jan. 7, the Undergraduate Students Association Council allocated $40,000 to fund the JazzReggae Festival. But at last week’s USAC meeting, more than 100 students attended to protest the council’s allocation of about $78,500 for councilmembers’ initiatives.

As a result, councilmembers decided to reverse the council’s previous allocations.

While revenue from ticket sales usually covers most of the cost of the event, the festival’s staff typically pays thousands of dollars of their own money up frontfor marketing or booking artists’ flights.

Money from a fund in the Cultural Affairs Commission, sponsorship money or USAC surplus funds typically ensure that students will be reimbursed – but this year, it may not be in a timely manner.

Madeline Jones, a third-year architectural studies student and co-director of operations for the festival, said she’s already paid $600 of her own money to help with the JazzReggae Festival and expects to pay even more before the festival begins.

LeeAnn Sanchez, a fourth-year Afro-American Studies student and co-director of operations for the JazzReggae Festival is one of 42 festival staff members who said they would increase the amount they pay out of pocket to help put on the festival.

For Sanchez, this means she may not be able to afford her textbooks next quarter.

USAC typically allocates $50,000 in surplus funds if the JazzReggae staff requests extra funding. An additional $50,000 typically comes from the JazzReggae Festival’s series budget within the Cultural Affairs Commission.

Currently, the JazzReggae Festival has $59,000 available in funds from the JazzReggae Festival’s series budget and sponsorship money that has rolled over from the previous year.

While last year’s festival cost about $656,500, this year’s festival is projected to cost about $576,300, primarily due to efforts by the Cultural Affairs Commission to reduce costs prior to the surplus loss.



Ticket sales from the festival help fund facilities, which include electricity, tents and staging, and cost about $324,900. Associated Students UCLA grants the festival a line of credit expected to go toward booking artists, which could cost the festival about $198,600 this year.

The Cultural Affairs Commission and the JazzReggae Festival staff will attempt to secure funding from other sources and cut back on festival costs to compensate for the loss in funding.

The festival’s staff may book local bands instead of more well-known artists who are more expensive, said Tina Samsamshariat, a third-year human biology and society student and the director of artist relations for the festival.

For some attendees, however, the famous headliners in the festival provide the biggest appeal. At last year’s event, critically acclaimed artist Santigold performed.

Ticket prices, which cost $50 last year for the entire weekend for non-students, may increase by several dollars, said Jasmine Pierik, a third-year English student and executive producer of the festival.

Pierik added that she is still in discussions about whether to increase ticket prices and nothing has been officially decided yet.

To help fund the JazzReggae Festival, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Jessica Trumble said she expects to cut about $20,000 from other Cultural Affairs Commission programs, such as WorldFest, a weeklong festival that showcases cultures around the world, and Hip Hop Explosion, a live concert.

Other USAC officers have reached out to Trumble and may help with funding.

Omar Arce, USAC community service commissioner, said he plans to meet with his staff this week to discuss the possibility of giving between $1,000 and $5,000 for the festival from their own budget.

Trumble also said she plans to apply for other funds, such as the Assistant Vice Chancellor’s Student Activities Fund, from which she hopes to obtain $1,500.

Within the week, Cultural Affairs Commission staff members will meet to discuss more concrete plans on how to restructure their budget for the festival, Trumble said.

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