Jazz ‘A’ band takes performances off campus

Daily Sundial

Ongoing state-mandated budget cuts continue to effect the entire campus, and subsequent cuts being made at the Performing Arts Center are necessary, according to officials from the College of Arts, Media, and Communication.

“The entire campus is facing budget cuts and it has been very difficult,” said William Martin, interim artistic director for the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in the college. “We have been trying to make it work, (and) it’s not pleasant, but we are trying to get through it. We have to pull together to get through this difficult time.”

Although state budget cuts have caused the reduction of shows at the PAC, the show must go on for the Jazz “A” Band, one among other ensembles in the Music Department that have to find a venue off campus.

On Oct. 17, CSUN’s Jazz “A” Band performed off campus at the Jazz Bakery, a prestigious nightclub in Culver City about 30 miles from Northridge.

“This is the first time one of our CSUN groups (played) at the Bakery,” said Gary Pratt, co-director of Jazz Studies in the Music Department. “The Jazz Bakery is one of the most prestigious Jazz venues in Los Angeles.”

The show marked the first time the band was invited to play at the venue. It was a big deal for the band because the Jazz Bakery “is one of the most prominent jazz venues in Southern California,” Pratt said. “Everyone doesn’t get invited to play there.”

The 18 student members of the Jazz “A” Band have practice for their upcoming performances since the start of the semester. The band performed 15 pieces at the Jazz Bakery last month and is working on another 10 to 15 pieces for future concerts. The venues have not yet been determined for the concerts.

Traditionally, the Jazz “A” Band performs two concerts every year at the PAC in the University Student Union. This year, however, the band decided to take its concerts off campus due to scheduling conflicts and budgetary issues.

As part of ongoing state-mandated CSU budget cuts, the College of Arts, Media, and Communication lost about $493,000 from its total budget this year, according to Toutant and the college’s manager of academic resources, Cathleen Fager. Other colleges and departments across campus have experienced similar cuts this year, widely considered to be the worst of a three-year budget cut cycle the university is now operating under.

This year the Jazz “A” Band also chose to perform at other venues because it is a hassle to perform at the PAC, said Matt Harris, co-director of Jazz studies, citing difficulties with booking the venue.

“(Playing there) may or may not coincide with our schedule,” Harris said. “Performing outside of the university is a good thing for the Jazz “A” Band because it gets us out of the academic setting.”

Earlier in the semester the band was scheduled to perform at the PAC, but they decided to not perform and left the slot available for another ensemble in the Music Department, Harris said.

As for the Jazz “A” Band not performing in the PAC, Toutant said it was not possible for the college to present as many artist or performances as in previous years because of budget cuts.

“I’m getting less money to work with,” he said. “My overall budget was less (this year) and I had to decide how to allocate (the money).”

According to Toutant, the reduced number of shows also affects the marketing for PAC.

“If I’m presenting, I need to let the public know so they can buy tickets,” he said.

This year the PAC is only showcasing 16 performances because of limited funding, four performances less than in 2004. Because of scarce funding, Toutant said he had to combine the fall and spring concert program guides.

“We decided to just do one to save money,” Toutant said.

The PAC is scheduled tightly throughout the year, with the majority of performances by outside artistic groups. People in the community can become a member of the PAC. For members, special privileges are awarded, like recognition in the program or lobby, Toutant said.

Harris said CSUN students should be performing more at the PAC, but it is used primarily for outside ventures. The PAC charges around $2,000 to book a concert, he added.

“The PAC is used to make money from outside ventures,” Harris said. “You would think it would be for CSUN students.”

Valencia Bankston can be reached at vbankston97@hotmail.com.