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What it takes to put on Spring Weekend

BCA, SAO, DPS, EMS among those with roles in preparation

As Spring Weekend approaches, groups across campus have been planning to ensure that everything runs smoothly. 

Brown Concert Agency began planning this spring’s event practically as soon as 2021’s digital Spring Weekend concluded, Kenney Nguyen ’22.5, co-chair of BCA, said. The Student Activities Office and BCA began working in collaboration at the beginning of the fall semester, said Matt Branch, associate director for student activities.

BCA leads planning efforts for the concerts, while SAO works in an advising role to support “the students who are making decisions about (which artists are) coming to campus,” Branch said.

SAO also helps to schedule arrival times of the artists, create and implement a safety plan and coordinate with various stakeholders, Branch said. Class Coordinating Board, Black Student Union, Sounds@Brown, Underground Thursdays, the Undergraduate Council of Students and the Undergraduate Finance Board are also involved in various parts of planning for the weekend, he added. 

According to BCA Co-Chair Ellie Barksdale ’23, BCA members begin the process by discussing artists they would like to bring for Spring Weekend. They then send a list of five names to a local agent in Providence, who contacts the artists and negotiates with them until they accept their bids.

“There is a lot of expectation management” for the students involved in this process, Nguyen said.

The individual negotiations for headliners, mids and openers can take a month to a month and a half, according to Barksdale. Decisions about the lineup order and the individual roles of BCA members in the planning process all are made in the fall as well, she added. 

“The fall is more music focused while the spring is more festival focused,” Barksdale said. 

Barksdale added that BCA thinks a lot about “genre diversity” as well as diversity of performers.

“This year we’re super excited to have Afrobeats for the first time and a Latina artist for the first time,” Barksdale added. 

Nguyen said that Spring Weekend has always been a “forward thinking” festival. 

“We take pride in highlighting up-and-coming artists and (giving) a platform to” new artists, Nguyen said. 

The budget for booking artists for the festival has been roughly $300,000 in previous years, according to UFB’s website. BCA and UFB are in constant negotiations about the budget for the Spring Weekend festival, Nguyen said. 

The budget “is less than people expect. Our rule of thumb is if (the artists) are performing in arenas, they are too expensive for us,” Nguyen said.

Other groups have also been preparing for the festival on campus. “Spring Weekend is a team effort. We have to plan very far in advance to make sure all of the pieces are in place,” Branch said. Around 150 staff members will work the events directly, he added. 

With Spring Weekend being the “biggest event on campus,” DPS has been preparing to 

ensure the event’s safety, said DPS Lieutenant John Carvalho. He said that an “assessment” is run on any outside guests that will be visiting campus for an event, which in the case of Spring Weekend includes the performers. The assessment looks at the “impact” that the visitor will have by investigating other events they may have attended on other campuses and incorporating internet research, Carvalho said.

DPS works alongside Event Staff Services, who perform gate checks and other safety precautions. 

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DPS will set up an additional dispatch site for the weekend within their offices at the DPS dispatch center, Carvalho noted. Traditionally, the additional dispatch site has been in Sayles Hall but has been moved for this year since it was “tough to hear the radio” because of the loud music, he added.

Thirteen DPS officers will be on staff for the event, with some armed and unarmed, according to Carvalho. If there are safety staffing shortages, DPS will contract security company Allied Universal to fill any gaps. 

Brown EMS will also have EMTs on staff for the event, and will have four “strategically placed” posts situated around the Main Green, said Amy Sanderson, Brown EMS chief.

“The concert is such a large group of people. We have to (be able) to have an EMT who can get to any part of the crowd at any given time,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson said she works directly with DPS in their dispatch center in order to control where ambulances need to be sent. There will be a total of four ambulances available for the event, as Brown EMS contracts with Alert Ambulance Service to obtain an extra ambulance, though all vehicles will be staffed by Brown EMTs.  

Brown Emergency Response Team, a subgroup of Brown EMS, went through some additional training protocols in order to prepare for event staffing, according to Sanderson. A training for the group focused on using the radios appropriately, managing specific operations and understanding proper triage protocols, Sanderson said. 

“We have to always be prepared and a little bit more aware of certain things, like how to recognize when someone’s really sick and potentially need(s) hospital care,” Sanderson said. 

Although the planning process for Spring Weekend is intensive and lengthy, Branch said it “feels like a celebration of everything students have accomplished since the beginning of the school year.” 



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