Convocation Center has fewer fall shows


James McCarter | Northern Star F

Crowds cheer durring Kid Cudi’s performance that attrracted a sold out venue at the Convocation Center March 31.

By Deanna Frances

The Convocation Center will have only two big performances this semester: Sheryl Crow with Gary Allan and Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles.

According to the Convocation Center events archive, from 2003 to 2011 there were at least three to five large performances scheduled for each fall semester.

Heather Priest, Convocation Center assistant marketing director, said there is an expectation of only five to six performances a year since the facility also hosts competitions, job fairs and sporting events.

“Five to six shows is just our standard,” Priest said. “If we can provide more shows and the schedule works we are more than happy to do so.”

Priest said scheduling some events, like the Sheryl Crow and Gary Allan tour, is done through an organization called Venue Coalition. The coalition assists venues with booking shows across the United States and Canada.

“Both Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles and the Free and Easy Tour featuring Sheryl Crow and Gary Allan were presented to the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center by Venue Coalition,” Priest said.

The process can take as quick as 24 hours or as long as a few months. Despite possible waiting periods, the booking and marketing team does not have a difficult time scheduling events, Priest said.

“In this case, Venue Coalition presented us with the opportunity, checked our available dates and put us in contact with the proper agents to discuss cost estimates,” Priest said.

The Convocation Center staff assesses a performer through a variety of methods.

“When an artist is brought to our attention, we assess the show a couple of different ways,” Priest said. “…We will bounce the idea of a group of NIU students, survey social media and even reach out to the media to see what support the show would receive.”

Each performer’s payment depends on the artist and the size of the tour. When the artists arrive at NIU, they have individual requests accommodated by the Convocation Center staff.

“Each artist has a rider which helps us to better accommodate them and to help them feel at home,” Priest said.

Some students think the Convocation Center should add different types of performances.

“I think it would be cool if they had more rising musicians perform,” said freshman undecided major Jackie Ciufo.

Others are impressed by the Convocation Center despite the decrease in shows this fall.

“I think the Convocation Center does a great job at getting famous performers out to our area,” said Kendal Baker, 19, of Shabbona. “I guess there could be more shows each year, but I’m thankful that we get anything at all.”