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Main success lies in concerts for programming organization started in 1928

Ke$ha stares into the audience in a break between songs during her concert in McGuirk Arena on Jan. 6, 2012.

When Central Michigan University’s Student Activities Board officially began in 1928, its primary goal was to plan elaborate activities and events for the students on campus. 

Now, the group is called Program Board. It has evolved into one of the strongest programming organizations on campus. Program Board provides live entertainment from musical artists and comedians, to challenging thoughts with lectures. 

Program Board has brought prominent entertainers and speakers to campus such as musical artists Big Sean and Ludacris and primatologist Jane Goodall. Bringing these figures to campus is a careful and timely process, said Program Board adviser Damon Brown. 

“We reach out to the agents to negotiate on a fair price, still keeping in mind our goal or providing students entertainment at a low cost,” Brown said. “After that, we have to go through the process of locking down a center or facility, sounds and lights to make sure the event is a success.” 

Negotiating a fair price for these figures can be challenging and expensive. The most expensive act was the Band Perry for $125,000 in 2015, Brown said.

Program Board’s main success lies within concerts. Concert events such as T-Pain and Big Sean have received more than 4,000 attendees and have even sold out. The biggest Program Board event yet was Ke$ha in 2011. 

“It was so big that some people were hanging from the rafters,” Brown said. “We were nearly the last school to be able to get her at $50,000 and right around the time she debuted with ‘Tik Tok.’”

While most of Program Board’s budget revolves around concerts and comedy series, president Marissa Mattioli seeks to focus more on the educational aspect of Program Board. 

“We have been focusing more on lecture. In the previous years, it seems to be lacking,” Mattioli said. “We like to do collaborations with other organizations on campus for lectures. For example, last year we worked with other organizations and brought in Laverne Cox.” 

Program Board meets at 8 p.m. every Wednesday in the Bovee University Center Mackinaw Room. Students plan events and programs to bring to campus each semester. Program Board members also get feedback on events from post-event evaluations.

Program Board members take pride in making sure students on campus feel there is something for them, whether it’s a lecture or concert, Brown said.