Two musicians play the trombone and guitar during a performance in a theater to a small crowd of two people. (Illustration by Emily Calix / Golden Gate Xpress) (Emily Calix)
Two musicians play the trombone and guitar during a performance in a theater to a small crowd of two people. (Illustration by Emily Calix / Golden Gate Xpress)

Emily Calix

Lackluster promotion leads to low attendance for SF State arts

Lackluster promotion leads to low attendance for SF State arts

December 2, 2022

As an Arts & Entertainment reporter, I’ve been to tons of rocking events over the course of this semester. I’ve watched local bands turn The Depot upside down, experienced the work of nationally celebrated artists at the Fine Arts Gallery, and sat at the edge of my seat for a gripping play production at The Lab. However, as I enjoyed these incredible events, there was always a question looming in the back of my head: Where is everybody?

I’m not proud to admit it, but this semester was the first time that I attended an arts event at our school since I arrived in 2019 —  and I really only did it because I knew that I wanted to cover Arts & Entertainment for Xpress. Perhaps I should blame myself for not caring enough, or perhaps I should blame COVID-19 for taking us away from campus for so long. 

When I reflect back upon my time before Xpress though, I can’t remember hearing about a single arts event. I never knew what was happening on campus as a freshman, and my junior year after we returned to campus wasn’t much different. Hell, I even went to concerts at UC Berkeley before I considered what could be going on just a few minutes away from me.

Come to find out, it was probably because I wasn’t following the right accounts on Instagram. For example, if you aren’t following The Depot, you’re bound to miss out on most of the concerts happening on campus. 

The Depot has just over 2,100 followers. That doesn’t sound bad until you realize SF State has over 29,000 students, so thousands upon thousands of students are out of the loop. Not to mention the fact that a portion of those followers might not even be current students.

These events just aren’t getting the promotion that they deserve.

If you’re lucky, you might catch a digital poster on SF State’s chronically congested Instagram story feed. Associated Students has a larger promotional presence on campus, but their events represent only a fraction of what our school offers. Despite the fact that The Depot is a program hosted by AS, it is hardly promoted on AS’ Instagram account. Other events hosted in venues like the Fine Arts Gallery, The Lab and Knuth Hall are often left to promote themselves.

The end result is low attendance, seats that should be filled with eager students and faculty,  and an air of disappointment because it always looks emptier than how I imagined.

The lack of attendance certainly isn’t for a lack of talent. I left almost every event feeling frustrated by the fact that no more than 50 other people were in the room with me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that everybody else was missing out, and if they knew that our campus was bubbling with incredible art, they would be coming out in droves to experience it.

Perhaps the low attendance has created a lack of motivation for our school to provide additional promotion. That doesn’t mean the interest isn’t out there though. I’ve met many people during my time at SF State who complain about the fact that nothing ‘cool’ happens at our school. Before this semester, I was one of those people.

So for now, you will have to make an effort to remain in the loop. If you ask me, though, it’s totally worth it.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Aiden Brady
Aiden Brady, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Aiden Brady (he/him) is the arts & entertainment for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in English literature. He was born in San Diego, California and currently lives in San Francisco. During his free time, he enjoys finding new music, attending concerts and watching sports.
Photo of Emily Calix
Emily Calix, Campus Editor
Emily Calix (she/her) is currently the campus editor of Golden Gate Xpress. Emily is a senior at SF State, majoring in journalism and minoring in international relations. She has lived in the Bay Area her whole life, moving among cities but currently lives in Richmond, California. She is a full-time student and a barista at a small coffee shop. Emily is a big foodie so she loves trying out new food places; her favorites include pho, hot pot and sushi. She also enjoys video games; some of her favorites are Animal Crossing, Minecraft and Stardew Valley.

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