Alumni Spotlight: Zac Clark

September 3, 2013

B.A. Journalism and Public Communications ’05
Hometown: Fairbanks, AK20130904-iamuaa-zac
Fun Fact:
Zac’s an avid birder and has contributed to Alaska Public Media’s Town Square 49 Birding Blog.

Zac Clark has many passions in life; he loves Alaska, likes to stretch his legs in the mountains to get away from it all and is an avid birder. But of his interests, Zac’s biggest passion is music. The 2005 UAA Journalism and Public Communications graduate has been the university’s Concert Board coordinator for the last eight years. Coming off the momentum of the board’s sell-out season last year with headlining shows like Flogging Molly and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Zac is enthusiastic about tackling this year’s lineup.

“I love music, I enjoy comedy and I like the arts,” says Zac in his small office in the Student Life & Leadership in the Student Union. Stacked floor to ceiling, the little wall space left is covered in event T-shirts, posters and memorabilia from past Concert Board events.

“It’s a great opportunity to make a difference in Anchorage and UAA. I recognized that as a student and that’s what I try to empower my students to realize—they can bring these artists to UAA that other students love as well.”

From volunteer to permanent post

Zac joined the Concert Board through KRUA, the student-run radio station, first as a volunteer and then as a staff member. He was only on the Concert Board for a little over a semester before a busy schedule forced him to give up his seat, but he’s glad he’s found his way back to help students put on shows for the university and the community.

“You have an opportunity to make an impact in a student’s life in a different way—in a fun and engaging way,” Zac says. “It’s a great opportunity to do something new and expose people to new ideas and experiences, that’s what I like about it.”

Zac shrugs his shoulders and says he knows it’s “cliché,” but he enjoys all genres of music from hip-hop and country to classical or rock, and everything in between. If he had to put his thumb on it, he’d say he was more of the indie-rock or folk rock persuasion, but when it comes to music, there’s not much he isn’t willing to listen to. He’s a fan of the arts and feels it’s important students not only get the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic education—but to have some great concert experiences thrown in the mix. Concert Board supplies that.

The board is open to all students taking three or more credits with five members who are elected and two who are appointed through Club Council and USUAA (student government). He adds that in addition to the seven board members they need volunteers at every show to help usher, pass out programs, tickets and run the event.

Follow the money

So how does the Concert Board afford these spectacular shows? Student fees. At the beginning of each school year the Concert Board collects $10 from each student taking three credits or more at the main UAA campus, which along with ticket sales, provides them the funds to bring up the musicians and comedians and covers the rental fees for venues. Students are not always thrilled about the annual charge, but Zac says he and the board are upfront about what their Concert Board fee pays for and says that if students attend just one show, they’ve cashed in on their investment.

“We’re consistently working to get that message out there,” Zac says adding that before each show, Concert Board members head on stage explaining to students the value of their fee. “If you come to one show, great! If you come to two shows, you’ve got a deal.”

How to be cutting-edge

Zac says he and the seven board members work really hard to find unique bands and comedians to showcase each year and they’re always thinking six months to a year ahead, as far as planning shows. He works with the seven to research what’s popular, and they use the assessments from the student body they gather after each show to get a feel of what people want to see. The Concert Board also works with other universities across the country to find out what bands and comedians are up-and-coming, and says that’s how they got lucky in booking Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

“I think sometimes you’re able to get ahead of it, for instance that show, a student said, ‘Hey, what about Macklemore? I know people that are talking about it, they seem like they’re getting a lot of buzz,’” says Zac. “Sometimes you sorta get lighting in a bottle like that and we were able to book them before they really blew up. We booked them in November and they were just starting to get lots of spins on the radio in January when tickets went on sale.”

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s show was sold out, but so were four of the seven Concert Board’s shows last year, like Flogging Molly in September and Mike Birbiglia in May. Zac is determined to keep up last year’s pace.

Finally, a big venue on campus

The opening of the Alaska Airlines Center in Fall 2014 has Zac anticipating all the possibilities for future shows and events.

“That space will allow us to have 5,000 seats on campus, which is something we’ve never had before and something that we’ve never had in Anchorage,” Zac says excitedly. “It’s more than just big names, it’s on campus and I think the students will have a little more ownership and feel connected to it than when you go off campus.”

The Alaska Airlines Center will be the second biggest venue in town for concerts and events, aside from the Sullivan Arena, with a max capacity of 5,000 people. He says students are constantly throwing out nationally famous bands like Dave Matthews or Jack Johnson, and that before, they had to pass on considering those groups, but now, with a new larger venue, those big names are suddenly within Concert Board’s reach.  Zac’s excited for the university’s changes ahead and is glad, in the eight years since he’s been the Concert Board coordinator, he’s been able to grow and help lead the student-run organization.

All work and no play would be bad for UAA

Zac loves his job at UAA overseeing and facilitating a lighter side of academics.

“The job has changed so much since I’ve been here and I enjoy working with the students,” says Zac. “Just seeing the student’s excitement and how happy they were to be able to do this, I get a lot of enjoyment from that. My favorite part of any show is when people are leaving and they’re happy they go to experience that. I’m happy that I’ve been able to grow with this job as it’s changed.”

“I think students can continue to expect us to bring new, fun and diverse events with a goal to keep bringing up household names that people recognize, but continuing to do things that student might not normally get a chance to see,” says Zac. “Our commitment is just to bring up excellent events.”

Get involved

Connect with Concert Board and volunteer! Meetings are open and held each Friday at 2 p.m. in the Student Union, Student Life & Leadership conference room (SU 218).


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