Singer Trey Songz and rappers Common and Fabulous will take the Florida A & M University stage on April 15 to raise funds to support ongoing efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. But what ticket buyers may not realize is that not all of their dollars will go toward the efforts in Haiti.
Debate over who receives who receives amount has been a constant chatter among senators. Promoter District Seven will have 19 percent of the profit from the concert, despite the original agreement of all revenue going directly to Haiti. The 39th Student Senate voted March 31 not to cancel the Haiti Relief concert.
“When we first wrote the legislation for the concert the senate voted not pay the concert promoter because all profits were to go directly to Haiti,” said author of the Bill, Senator Ricquel Jackson from Tallahassee. “After the bill went through General Counsel, the [FAMU] administration recommended the promoter be paid. So the senate negotiated District Seven’s 30 percent request to 19 percent of ticket sales.”
Although the FAMU administration did make a recommendation to pay concert promotion company District Seven, some senators say things still seem unethical.
“I’m all for FAMU supporting Haiti and for Trey Songz coming to campus, but I do not agree with how it is being done,” said Graduate Senator Jarveal Baker from Winter Haven, Fla. “I feel that we have been deceived and the senate lost its voice…although the majority of senate did vote to pay the promoter it was as if we were being told what to do.”
Baker, who cited ethical issues during the March 31 meeting, voted to cancel the concert and said the senate was not given enough time to make a conscious decision about the new agreement.
“I feel that some senators were pressured into voting in favor of the concert,” Baker said. “We were told by Senator Ricquel Jackson that the concert was going to go on regardless of anything we did whether we liked it or not.”
Baker said during the meeting it was unclear why the promoter was breaking the original agreement of doing the concert free of charge.
Tyler Cheatham, concert promoter and CEO of District Seven Promotions Company, said his original plan was to write off all expenses incurred for the concert on his taxes.
“After speaking with a certified public accountant, I learned that a write-off is used to refer to an investment for which a return on the investment is not possible,” said Cheatham.
“[Because tickets are being sold] there will be enough revenue generated to cover my investment…therefore doing a write-off is no longer possible.”
According to Haiti Concert student representative Andy St. Hilaire, the estimated cost to put the concert on is $158,000.
According to the Senate Special Allocation budget, $120,000 was allocated for the concert to pay for entertainment. For rapper Fabulous, $60,000 was allocated, $30,000 for rapper Common and $30,000 for singer Tre Songz. The remaining estimated $38,000 would have to be covered by District Seven. If the concert does sell out, District Seven could receive upwards of $40,000 profit based on the availability of seats, which is 9,000, the minimum of $22 being charged to students and the 19 percent he will be allotted.
“We expect a little over 5,000 people to be in attendance due to the little time given to promote.” Cheatham said.
“There is no shady business going on here, we [the student government] would not make the same mistake twice,” Jackson said.
In November 2009, the FAMU Homecoming Concert was surrounded by controversy ranging from the turntable of headlining artists to the credibility of the concert promoter Willie McKenzie. The controversy culminated when Willie McKenzie was arrested Oct. 15 for trespassing in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication building, allegedly to confront on-air disc jockey Deedee Roc.
“This is a great initiative and will be a great concert that will benefit the student body and those coping in Haiti, the focus should remain just that,” Jackson said.
The remaining proceeds for the concert will go to FAMU clubs and organizations that are aiding with the ongoing efforts in Haiti.
“Most of [81 percent] the profits will be used to aid clubs like the FAMU Nursing Club that travels to Haiti one Tuesday out of every month or nationwide organizations that provide supplies like water and other necessities,” said Hilaire.
The concert is set to occur April 15, at 7 p.m. in the Alfred Lawson, Jr. Teaching Center Gymnasium. Tickets are $22 for FAMU, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College students, and $33 for the general public.