Exclusive: June Ball 2018 performers asked to pay to attend after £23k overspend last year

Acts have been asked to pay up to £70 to perform

An event so extravagant it was featured in Tatler, Castle's June Ball last year exceeded its budget by £23,000 and will this year charge performers to take part, The Tab Durham can disclose.

Performers have been asked to pay up to £70 to attend June Ball 2018, as a compromise between having a large number of performers while still hosting the ball in Durham Castle, according to an email sent to all acts.

Performers have been offered a "discount"

In the email, sent to all performers and shown to The Tab Durham, JCR Chairman Tom Poon and Ball President Jimmy Lee wrote: "Last summer we found out that The June Ball 2017 went over budget by over £23,000 due to mismanagement outside of our control."

The email continued: "We have asked each performer to give a small contribution in order to cover some of [this year's] expense and to maintain the quality of the Ball."

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Photo: James Yallop for Crappy Snaps

One second-year student, who performed at June Ball 2017 and will perform at June Ball 2018, told The Tab Durham: "I just think it's wholly unfair that the June Ball committee are trying, even after heavy backlash from last year, to again effectively get away with having people work without any payment or allowing us to stay at the ball after free of charge.

"It's not professional and unthinkable that this kind of arrangement would be accepted in any other professional situation. The fact that they incurred debts of tens of thousands of pounds last year doesn't instill confidence in me either."

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Photo: James Yallop for Crappy Snaps

Defending the decision to host the ball in Durham Castle, which adds expenses and limitations, the email stated: "We believe that Durham Castle is an appropriate setting to showcase the best of talent in our university.

"Due to the World Heritage Site and Listed Buildings status of the building, the Committee is restricted by more regulations than many events at other colleges. This means we are unable to accommodate more guests to cover our budget for this Ball."

The email continued: "We know The June Ball is something that many Durham performers look forward to every year, and in our view, we did not want to remove this opportunity."

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Photo: James Yallop for Crappy Snaps

University College JCR has been contacted for comment.

The full text of the email sent to all performers is as follows:

First and foremost, we would like to apologize for the lack of communication from the June Ball Committee thus far. Due to internal issues with the structure of the entertainment team, as well as the individuals’ academic timetables, it has been difficult for the team to tackle the logistics and admin June Ball entertainment needs through the term. Thank you for being patient however with details with regards to performing at June Ball 2018. Aside from the previous difficulties, these details have also taken time, as we needed to think through carefully an implementation that was consistent and fair to everyone.

We understand that there have been frustrations on the situation, and we feel it’s best to be transparent behind the need for change this year. The June Ball has, in recent years, become an established event because it has focused on a full and thought out 12 hours of entertainment, we’ve worked with many of you in years past because we believe that Durham Castle is an appropriate setting to showcase the best of talent in our university. Due to the World Heritage Site and Listed Buildings status of the building, the Committee is restricted by more regulations than many events at other colleges. The building capacity is strictly limited to 800 people, which last year included 630 guests, 120 performers and 50 staff. This means we are unable to accommodate more guests to cover our budget for this Ball. Furthermore, last year, some performers were requested to leave early from the event due to the similar capacity issue.

Last summer we found out that The June Ball 2017 went over budget by over £23,000 due to mismanagement outside of our control. Simply put, we would not be able to sustain our anticipated level of entertainment as it was, without accommodating more guests to meet our budget and thus, meaning a decrease in the performers capacity. However, we know The June Ball is something that many Durham performers look forward to every year, and in our view, we did not want to remove this opportunity. The Committee has decided against cutting the entertainment this year to under 30 performers to meet this lower budget. We instead have worked to retain the diverse range of entertainment and the accommodation of 120 performers at the Ball with full commitment and guarantee that performers would not be asked to leave early. In doing so, however, we would lose over £12,000 of our budget to cover the Ball, which is why we have asked each performer to give a small contribution in order to cover some of this expense and to maintain the quality of the Ball.

With this in mind we have worked on the prices as follows below, with pricing at £10-40 promised to you at auditions:

Please note, we understand that the performance timeslot should be taken into consideration at the ball. Any performance past 2 am will receive an extra £10 discount to ensure fairness of this agreement.

We appreciate that this does not detail the exact costs for individual performers at this point. The President and the Entertainment team are currently finalising the performance schedule this week and liaising with the remaining performers for their contact information. Once this is completed, the Entertainment Co-Directors, Alexander Coptcoat, and Pookie Collier will follow up by sending out contracts and equipment riders next week.

Lastly, to clarify I’m in an advisory role on this committee this year. I am emailing also externally as JCR Chair of the college so I can gauge your opinions to push the committee and work out the best entertainment arrangement for next year. I joined the committee having performed in a society at other events myself, and have used this experience to portray this perspective during the committee’s decisions. But I’d appreciate it if you ever have any notes/feedback/better suggestions on making the situation more ideal under the current circumstances.

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