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USAC partially approves requests for funding for Bruin Bash

A performer at Bruin Bash 2022 is pictured. The Campus Events Commission and Cultural Affairs Commission, who co-host the event, requested more than $100,00 of surplus funding to cover expenses. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

By Emily Rusting

April 13, 2023 11:38 p.m.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council partially approved a request from the Cultural Affairs Commission and Campus Events Commission to use surplus funding to cover costs associated with Bruin Bash.

CAC and CEC, which co-plan the event each year, requested $82,103.71 to pay outstanding fees from last year’s Bruin Bash and an additional $20,000 for Bruin Bash 2023. At the meetings, the council approved the $82,000 request but denied the $20,000 request to support projects with more immediate impacts on the student body.

A 2013 referendum allocated approximately $109,000 of student fees per year to Bruin Bash, which equates to $1.33 per student per quarter, and this amount has not changed.

Alicia Verdugo, the Cultural Affairs commissioner and a second-year sociology and education and social transformation student, said rising inflation partially motivated the decision to request funds from the surplus, a pool of excess USAC funding that comes from student fees.

“After the pandemic, the cost of honorarium and the cost of labor, the cost of putting this kind of concert … together, got much more expensive,” Verdugo said. “With everything costing more money, it’s an inevitable thing that our referendum fees can’t cover the entire cost of Bruin Bash.”

Accumulating sponsorships, which typically cover a large portion of event fees, was especially difficult this year in the wake of UCLA’s contract with a new sponsorship liaison, said Giovanna Boffa, the Campus Events commissioner and a fourth-year mathematics/economics student.

Boffa said that the new sponsorship liaison, a marketing firm called Learfield, did not allow CAC and CEC to approve Bruin Bash sponsors or view contracts before confirming potential partnerships.

“My main issue with working with Learfield was a lack of transparency on how much money they were pulling in,” Boffa said. “Before we confirm anything with anyone, we want to have the last say in case it’s a company that our values don’t align with, … and that didn’t really end up happening.”

Contributions from CEC’s budget and UCLA’s office of Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement, which amounted to around $38,000 in 2022, were not sufficient to fund Bruin Bash, with contributions from sponsors lower than expected this year, Verdugo added. Sponsors also contributed around $38,000 toward Bruin Bash 2022, according to Boffa, roughly the same amount they contributed in 2018 when the event cost $35,000 less.

Verdugo also said the increased cost of hiring artists motivated the decision to request surplus funds. Boffa said she believed that artists sometimes charge artificially high prices to perform at Bruin Bash, since they are typically less interested in appearing at college shows.

Both Boffa and Verdugo said CAC and CEC had planned to use the $20,000 surplus to make down payments to reserve either Pauley Pavilion or the Los Angeles Tennis Center for Bruin Bash 2023.

Ryan Chu, a first-year data theory student who attended Bruin Bash last fall, said he was in favor of increasing funding for Bruin Bash, but he wanted to see this funding targeted toward hiring artists.

“Bruin Bash would be a pretty big highlight of the start of the year if they had a headliner that I enjoyed,” Chu said.

Boffa said one of CEC’s major priorities for Bruin Bash is establishing relationships in the entertainment industry and marketing the event to artists as an opportunity to contribute to UCLA’s legacy.

Christian Cruz, a third-year music education student, said although he understood more Bruin Bash funding was necessary to meet the rising costs of hosting large-scale entertainment events, he agreed with USAC that at least part of the surplus funding could be used elsewhere.

“Since Bruin Bash claims to be cultural enrichment, I feel … a lot of that money could be used for programs such as undocumented student resources or African American (student) resources,” Cruz said.

Boffa agreed that surplus funds are not meant to support programs such as Bruin Bash, which already have large budgets, and said that CEC and CAC are trying to move toward focusing on sponsorships rather than surplus to sustain the event.

“We need to break the cycle of it just being assumed that when you’re planning an event like this that surplus is going to be there as a safety net afterwards,” Boffa said. “It’s not a sustainable way of putting on an event.”

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Emily Rusting
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