Student groups that are not recognized by the Performing Arts Council or the Student Activities Council must “get creative” when it comes to finding free rehearsal space, Director of Platt Student Performing Arts House Laurie McCall said.
When a student group receives both PAC and SAC recognition, it has priority when booking rehearsal spaces and performance venues. Groups that are recognized by SAC also receive full funding for approved expenses, such as rent, technicians and equipment. McCall said things like an extra microphone or a follow-spot would cost extra.
There are four groups that are not SAC-recognized, but are PAC-recognized — Full Measure, New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir, Disney A Cappella and Yalla. Cyrus was not recognized by SAC until this spring, and its most recent show was the first funded.
McCall also said that it is especially difficult for religious PAC groups to be recognized, and subsequently funded, by SAC. She also noted that groups like Disney A Cappella would struggle to receive funding because it was founded after the establishment of the SAC moratorium, a rule that prevents SAC from recognizing more than one new PAC group each year.
SAC President and College and Wharton junior Edward Jing said that he has “heard from talking to different groups that prices [to rent Penn facilities] are very high.”
He acknowledged that while Penn offers discounts to students, it is not a “huge amount.” He said he thinks that Penn should offer lower prices to students. He also noted that SAC is advocating for it, although it does not have much influence.
Jing also said that the SAC moratorium exists because “the facilities [are] very expensive and the other costs as well — production expenses, costumes, the whole nine yards.”
“We would like to accept all the PAC groups we could, but we just don’t have the budget to do that,” Jing said. “A large reason for that is the high facilities costs.”
Groups that are recognized by PAC but not SAC still receive priority over groups that are not recognized by either when selecting free rehearsal spaces. Because they do not get the funding from SAC, however, they do not typically rehearse in spaces that would charge them extra. This becomes more difficult when selecting a performance venue because many of those spaces are not free, so they are limited in their options.
McCall said that any student can rent out space for free at the Platt Student Performing Arts House and in the space available within the Perelman Quadrangle, though PAC-recognized groups get priority selection. Students in PAC-recognized groups often opt to rehearse in the spaces available at various college houses, which are available to all Penn students.
Groups that are not recognized by SAC, however, get charged for the staffing of their performances. For example, McCall said that if there were no need for security or clean-up staff, Platt would be completely free.
She also noted that, because Penn does not build in funding for events held by student groups, places like the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology must charge for rent, as well as for extra staffing.
Kanishka Rao is a Wharton and Engineering junior and the financial chair of Disney A Cappella, a PAC-recognized but not SAC-recognized student group. He said that the problem with not being SAC-funded is not about the cost of facilities, but rather about other expenses.
“It definitely limits where you can perform and how often you can perform and what you can do in the space,” Rao said. “If we were SAC-recognized we could get better mics and a better sound technician and things like that.”
He acknowledged that the group is limited to picking affordable places, which is why they do not see the high facilities costs. He cited that if they attempted to perform at the Annenberg Center or Irvine Auditorium there would be “extremely high costs.”
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