On Sunday, February 10, 500 students put on their best and brightest to attend Art. Love. Music., the Student Association’s revamped Valentine’s Day event.
The event was unlike any other Valentine’s banquet S.A. had put on before. For the past several years, attendance has been declining at S.A. Valentine’s banquets, culminating in last year’s banquet being cancelled due to low ticket sales. Because of this, Andrea Erhart, S.A. social vice president and senior public relations and international studies major, knew the annual event needed a change.
“I really think the banquet is something that students like, it just hadn’t been done well in the past,” Andrea said. “ We needed something different this year to get students more involved.”
Andrea explored ways the event could be redesigned to appeal to a large number of students. Emmanuel Lemnah, junior religious studies major, suggested that the indie-folk band Branches be brought as the entertainment. After researching further, Andrea enjoyed the California band so much she was inspired to set the theme of the event around the band and their style. Thus the Valentine’s banquet was transformed into an art appreciation event: Art. Love. Music. To reinforce the event’s uniqueness, it was advertised as anything but a banquet. While they decided to keep a formal atmosphere, they stayed away from using the word “banquet” to ensure the event wouldn’t be mixed with past S.A. banquets.
“We wanted it to be an event that anyone could go to,” Andrea said. “You didn’t need a date; you could go with your friends or even by yourself.”
Andrea’s final tactic to increase student attendance included lowering the ticket cost to $10, a price drop of $16 from last year. However, when the first week of ticket sales went by with only 100 sold, Erhart worried that the previous year would be repeated. By the end of the second week though, a shocking total of 500 tickets had been sold. Due to the unexpected increase in sales, the venue was changed from the old box factory by the Service Department, whose capacity was 400 people, to the Iles P.E. Center. For some students, the change of venue was a disappointment. However, once inside the decorated gym, many were pleasantly surprised with the transformation.
Apart from delays with the caterer, the evening went smoothly, with the many guests enjoying food, photo booths, and each other’s company. But the biggest highlight of the night was the entertainment. Emmanuel, a member of the student band Réformiste that opened for Branches, was very happy with the reaction from guests.
“I was a little worried about the response, but walking around and running into people, they were like, ‘These guys are so good!’” Emmanuel said. “I could tell people really liked them.”
Ingrid Hernandez, senior public relations and business administration major, had attended the S.A. Valentine’s banquet her freshman year. She was drawn to the unique theme and the great advertising S.A. had done to promote it. However, the two following years Ingrid decided it wasn’t worth her while to buy tickets due to the bad advertising of the events, not understanding the theme, and having only a small amount of time to buy tickets. When advertising for Art. Love. Music. began this year, Hernandez was impressed.
“They started very early on advertising, telling us the theme and what would be there,” Ingrid said. “It also seemed a more modern, youthful theme, tying with the current hipster, art trend. Plus the fact that it was $10, anyone could’ve gone.”
Ingrid bought her ticket and was very excited to attend with her group of friends. However, when the venue had to be changed to the Iles P.E. Center, Ingrid was disappointed, thinking it wouldn’t be possible to pull it off at the gym. But when she walked through the door, she found her preconceived notions were wrong.
“When I walked into the gym, I was completely surprised and overwhelmed by how well S.A. was able to convert the gym and make it fit the theme well,” Ingrid said.
Ingrid had a wonderful time with her group of friends, enjoyed the band, saying they added a wonderful touch to the whole theme, and loved the photo booths where students could collect memories of the event. She encourages those that didn’t attend to consider going in the future.
“I know that everyone that went this year had a great time,” Ingrid said, “so if next year they have a solid theme, advertise early on, and have reasonably priced tickets, definitely go because you’ll have a good time!”