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Let the Good Times Roll by Beverly Pence
Music booming, people cheering and bodies moving, all of which can be witnessed at the many events that have been occurring at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for the past forty years. From hypnotists to comedians, musicians to specialty speakers, Good Times Programming, a student organization on UW-Green Bay’s campus, continues to bring quality performances to the university in order to provide entertainment and appeal for students, faculty and staff.
Good Times Programming began in 1972 but was then called Shorewood Activities. It was located in an old farmhouse on campus that had been converted into a bar/entertainment center. This was considered the first University Union. According to Michael Stearney, dean for Enrollment and Academic Services, during the mid-1970s things were ran differently than it is today.
It was definitely a unique culture and everything that was done was just part of the times,
Stearney was a UW-Green Bay student from 1976 to 1980 and was part of student programming for almost three of those years. During this time, all of campus life offices were located in the Dean of Students Office since the new University Union had not yet been built. Student organizations and programs were also run a lot more loosely.
“It was more student based and student run with less staff,” Stearney said.
“The students performed all the work to get the programming and talent to campus and signed all the contracts. No approvals were needed. Students were doing a lot of things that professionals do today.”
According to Stearney, there were five series to the programming. These included the Popular Music, Blue Whale Coffeehouse, Popular Film, International Art Film and Speaker series.
The Popular Music series mainly consisted of performances that took place at the Shorewood Club. There was a stage set up for the bands to perform with a backdrop of a painted wooden sign with the blue whale coffeehouse logo.
The Blue Whale Coffeehouse was the host of the series to which its name is designated and consisted mainly of folk or blues music performances. Many of these performances came from Chicago, and were mostly up-and-coming bands looking for a place to be heard. After the coffeehouse was torn down, there were some memorabilia left behind that are on display in Common Grounds, the University Union’s new coffeehouse.
The Environmental Science building, specifically lecture hall 214 was home for the Popular Film series. Each week there would be different films shown. This is similar to the Cheap Seat movies shown in the Christie Theatre on weekends.
There were certain films that were considered more “edgy” as Stearney called them and were assigned to the International Art Film series. These films could have been considered X-rated due to the language or sexual content in the film.
The Speaker series occurred at different locations throughout campus. Lecturers in the Speaker series visited campus and spoke to students and faculty about topic such as environmental or political issues.
“It was definitely a unique culture and everything that was done was just part of the times,” Stearney said. In the late 1970s, students could go to the Club or Coffeehouse and enjoy a beer with one of their professors, something not necessarily considered normal today. The organization seemed to move from something that was entirely student-run to something that only students are participating in, Stearney said.
The Blue Whale Coffeehouse was one of the many campus locations where performances and programming took place. It had an atmosphere similar to coffeehouses that were found in Chicago. The coffeehouse was located in the Shorewood Annex and was very popular for the students as well as faculty. It was located on the edge of campus, which actually gave it the feeling of being off campus.
Every Friday night throughout the year, there was always some form of entertainment, generally bands that took place at the coffeehouse. In addition to those Friday night events, there was a two-day folk festival, put on every spring. Shorewood Activities group brought bands, musicians and performers to the campus to perform at the festival.
Most of the band performances that took place on campus during the late 1970s-early 1980s were either Wisconsin or regional up-and-coming bands. Many of these bands came from Chicago and were paid very little.
“We would usually pay them a couple hundred dollars and they would end up sleeping on my couch for the night,” Stearney said.
“It’s a lot different than what you would see today.”
Shorewood Activities soon changed its name to Good Times Ltd in 1977. The Ltd at the end of the new name stood for limited and stayed in effect until 1981.
“Adding Ltd at the end of Good Times was supposed to be a poke at the budget cut taking place,” Grant Winslow, Good Times student adviser said. The budget for Good Times was cut when the new University Union was built.
“The good times on campus will be limited.” Winslow said.
When SUFAC decided to cut the budget for funding Good Times, SUFAC began to focus a lot on the attendance at the events and performances.
“SUFAC thought if people weren’t showing up to the events, why should they help fund them,” Stearney said.
With an increase in the student population in the 1990s came an increasing in funding for Good Times as well.
In addition to other changes taking effect, there used to be a 24-hour event line students could call to hear a recording of the events taking place that week. This was long before there was access to creating web pages and managing them. Winslow started working with Good Times in 1996 when the event line was still considered effective and it was believed to still have been effective through the year 2000.
“Currently the segregated fees students pay with their tuition are used to support bringing entertainment to campus,” said Kassie Schnell, executive director of Good Times Programming.
“This is why most of the programs and events are free or at a low cost.”
This can be compared to previous times when students had to ask for funding depending on if they wanted to book some type of talent.
As far as booking talent for the university is concerned, Ryan VanHandel, member relations for Good Times Programming, said most of the talent is booked through the performers, who call looking for an opportunity to perform at the university or from NACA, the National Association for Campus Activities conference that takes place in Minneapolis each year.
Good Times Programming members see performances and can get information about the performers if they are interested in booking them for campus events. It takes place in April and also has an educational and networking component for the students, Stephanie Kaponya, Good Times Programming student adviser said. NACA currently has more than 1,000 college and university members and almost 650 associate members who represent artists, lecturers and performers for these colleges and universities.
“We are always looking for different things,” said Eric Schuelke, outdoor adventure and travel coordinator.
Schuelke also said that there have been more musical talents booked now because this seems to be what is most entertaining and in demand at the time for the students.
One thing that has seemed to stay the same throughout the years of the organization was its purpose. According to Winslow, the purpose of Good Times Programming is to provide entertainment to the entire campus, mostly students, and is not specifically related to one area or topic.
Good Times Programming will continue to bring quality performances to the UW-Green Bay campus keeping the students, faculty and staff happy and entertained. They will be having surveys filled out after performances to judge their success in knowing whether or not to bring these performances back. Good Times wants to provide the campus with what the students and audience want and enjoy.
Good Times Programming Let the Good Times Roll was written by Beverly Pence for UW-Green Bay’s Campus Compass