GARY REDMOND readily admits that he was “very happy” with his performance as Students’ Union (SU) Entertainments (Ents) Officer for the past year. “I feel the Ents brand has been built on massively in the last few years, particularly by Stephen Quinlivan last year. Students in UCD and around the country now associate UCD Ents with bringing top international acts to the campus.”
The UCD Ball selling out all 4500 tickets within a matter of hours is undoubtedly Redmond’s greatest achievement. But with a 92 per cent sell out rate across the variety of events he has organised this year it would not appear to be an isolated success.
Having being so closely involved with Quinlivan’s Ents crew last year, Redmond already had extensive experience in organising events. “I knew what I was getting myself into and what to expect,” he explained. This appeared to help him in organising a Fresher’s Ball which garnered positive feedback from students, despite not being on campus as his manifesto had promised.
Even with this experience and a successful event under his belt Redmond still admitted that he was “absolutely bricking it” before his first ‘Thursday Night Live’ of the year. Despite his nerves, the event went off without a hitch and he feels that ‘Thursday Night Live’ has once again become “a staple part of Ents”.
However, this experience under Quinlivan has been both a blessing and a curse. Though Redmond denies that he copied Quinlivan’s efforts as Ents officer it is undeniable that a great deal of similarities can be seen between the two of them. “I may be accused of being very similar to Stephen and that’s true in a way but if things aren’t broke then you don’t fix them,” he argues.
The main area Redmond feels he has built on across Ents is diversity. “I’ve tried as much as possible to bring in all different categories. People like Fight like Apes or JLS and the Wailers, Bob Marley’s old band, was one of the highlights of the year.” The ‘Blast from the past’ events, such as the Vengaboys, and the various electro acts, such as Vitalic, helped Redmond contribute to the variety of students tastes across campus.
Seeking diversity was not solely limited solely to music. “I’ve put more emphasis on comedy gigs,” stated Redmond. “All the comedy gigs we had this year sold out and it was nice to do something different.”
Despite these achievements, it has not been continual success for Redmond this year. He has come under criticism for the limited impact of this year’s RAG week which he defends by stating “RAG week doesn’t really work in UCD because we are used to constant entertainment.” Though Redmond was quick to dismiss the idea of cancelling future UCD RAG weeks, he did say he hoped future Ents officers would concentrate on getting more involved in faculty days as “these are the best ways of keeping in touch students.”
Another area of failure has been the attempts to foster a greater sense of community in the residential areas over the weekend. “We ran a couple of Friday events but this is something Ents can’t do alone,” he explained. “The whole university needs to decide if we want to build a community over the weekend.”
Redmond admitted that he was “very disappointed” at not being able to deliver a spin off DJ competition from the successful ‘Battle of the Bands’. “It just didn’t work out,” he stated. Additionally, Redmond was unable to deliver a night bus service for students. But he said this “was one of the things I was willing to give up so we could fund the fight against the re-introduction of third-level fees.”
The issue of fees has taken up a huge amount of the SU’s time and budget this year. Redmond was keen to point out that the Ents officer is not solely about entertainment. “As a Vice-President of the SU I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, particularly in relation to fees.”
A final criticism often levelled at Redmond was that Ents had become too much of a ‘clique’ in recent years. However, he vehemently denied this and pointed to the various recruitment campaigns he ran as evidence to the contrary. He also argued that Ents needed to protect its reputation and this meant that “in specialised areas I need people I know.” On the other hand, he did admit that “he could have taken more opportunities to involve people in the smaller gigs.”
Redmond said that his year as Ents officer has taught him the valuable skill of “multitasking and how important time keeping is” but also how much work was required of a sabbatical officer. Despite joking the work had cost him his social life over the last year, he said he would do it all over again and couldn’t wait to get started next year as SU President.
As a year of both diversity and consolidation for Gary Redmond ends, it will be interesting to see how he copes with next year’s added responsibilities.