Posts Tagged ‘Ben Folds’

Feature: Orange Peel reels back this year

September 3, 2010

This story ran on the front page of the Friday edition of the O’Colly.

  • The day the music died

Jason Aldean’s guitar strumming inside Gallagher-Iba Arena last year might be the final sound heard at an Orange Peel for a while.

The longtime student-run concert series and pep rally is canceled for 2010. Since 1996, the OSU campus event has been canceled once in 2007 because of issues with talent.

Director of Campus Life Kent Sampson said the past 13 Orange Peels have lost roughly $210,000.

“Truthfully, we’ve never been into it to make money,” he said.

Sampson advised students, handled paperwork and helped manage Orange Peel since 1997. He said student volunteers needed to raise $100,000 from sponsors this summer in order to make an Orange Peel in 2010 possible.

“We didn’t make that happen,” Sampson said.

After looking at the amount of money needed and because of the Student Union remodeling, a big effort wasn’t undertaken to collect $100,000, Sampson said.

Profits from food and textbook sales at the Student Union provided the majority of backing for Orange Peel, Sampson said. Ticket sales and corporate sponsorships were the second source of revenue. Although Sampson said Oklahoma City’s Ford Center and Tulsa’s BOK Center made it difficult to attract performers to Stillwater, it was the lowering of ticket prices for concertgoers that became a big issue.

“In terms of trying to give our students a break, we undercut ourselves and hurt our income base,” he said.

Sampson said tickets were about $40 for Orange Peel in 2009, which is roughly $20 less than a show at the Ford Center or the BOK Center. In 2005 and 2006, the Oklahoma Chevy Team Dealer donated $30,000 to Orange Peel, which brought sponsorship amounts to $60,000 for those two years. The loss of Chevy as a donor made an impact, Sampson said.

But he said he doesn’t think Orange Peel will disappear. He named several student organizers throughout the years who made Orange Peel possible and illustrated how the event’s tradition has deep roots.

  • It takes a lot to make an Orange Peel grow

Angela Courtin stood inside Lewis Field (now Boone Pickens Stadium) in 1996, moments after Bill Cosby, Norm McDonald and Dog’s Eye View finished performing at Orange Peel’s debut.

The OSU graduate student sighed and looked to her friends.

“We pulled it off,” she said in a phone interview between meetings in Chicago. “We could walk on air. Was it the most successful show? Probably not, but the fact that we were able to bring it to completion in a way that we could be proud of was an enormous accomplishment.”

Courtin and dozens of student volunteers turned an idea for a pep rally before the football team’s season opener into an event 17,000 patrons attended. Without the assistance of a booking agency or prior knowledge of how to put on a concert, Courtin created big entertainment from scratch at Orange Peel.

“I look back at my career … and it certainly was this catapult to where my career would go,” Courtin said.

Today, she’s the senior vice president of integrated marketing at MTV, and she does almost exactly what she did for Orange Peel. Courtin is producing a live performance that will air during a commercial break of MTV’s 2010 Video Music Awards, which airs on Sept. 12.

Courtin said Orange Peel gave her skills to hustle and the opportunity to throw herself completely into something. She applied classroom lessons to the real world because Orange Peel operated like a tiny business. About 200 OSU students volunteered yearly within Orange Peel’s six committees, which ranged from stage production to marketing.

Since 2003, Orange Peel organizers used a booking agency to gather talent, but this didn’t make things much easier. The 2009 Orange Peel executive director, Kristen Kenaga, said she spent an hour a day for two months talking to Eric Hening Promotions to make sure everything was OK for Orange Peel.

Months of planning couldn’t prepare her for the surprise request of a special brew of Starbucks coffee the morning Aldean’s tour bus arrived. The coffee wasn’t for Aldean. His band had the power to request groceries, so Kenaga went shopping.

The demands of celebrities and their management turn concerts into work for hosts. The 2008 Orange Peel headliner, Sugarland, had a 35-page contract that detailed the brand of water the band drank, the exact number of Clif energy bars needed and the number of hand towels required for dressing rooms.

Erika Curry, Kenaga’s marketing director for 2009’s Orange Peel, spent 40 hours a week during her summer putting together radio ads, press releases and doing everything in her power to spread the word about Orange Peel. Her pace didn’t slow down when classes began. She spent weekends at rodeos and fairs handing out flyers.

“I can’t even put a number on it,” Curry said. “Hundreds if not thousands of hours.”

Sampson said Orange Peel in 2009 lost roughly $75,000. It hadn’t broken even since Bill Engvall and Alan Jackson performed in 2006, but the event did succeed in supporting charities such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Special Olympics. The past two Orange Peels raised about $16,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“Whether Orange Peel continues or not, it will always be a great OSU tradition,” Kenaga said.