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Summer Ball Loss is ?14.5k

May 26 2004 12:00
Nia Stevens
After hearing the loss made by this year's Summer Ball, the ICU Executive Committee are considering whether the Union should continue to run such events.
Revellers at this year's Summer Ball

At a meeting last night it was announced that the Summer Ball sold 538 tickets bringing in a revenue of £25k as compared with the £40k ticket income that was budgeted for. When it became apparent that the ball was not going to break even efforts were made to minimise losses. This included cancelling coaches and also negotiating a reduction in the payment made for Alexandra Palace.

The original deal for the venue was that provided 900 meals were purchased, there would be no venue hire fee. This was renegotiated last week such that only 650 meals were paid for but on top of this a venue hire fee of £5000 was paid. This arrangement brought about a saving of £3000 compared with paying for 900 meals.

Previous Summer Balls at Imperial have struggled to break even but have done so with generous sponsorship from College and external sources. This year Shell sponsored the ball to the tune of £3000 and sponsorship of £20,000 from College was offered by the Rector to Union President, Mustafa Arif. Mr Arif however declined the offer from College and also requested that money be put towards funding 24 hour library access, arguing "I think it’s outrageous that for the last few years money that could have been given to the Union for club/society grants or spent on accommodation or (dare I say it) on teaching was, instead, wasted on a big piss-up." With a £14.5k loss on the event though it appears that the only difference this year will be that the Union rather than central College resources will foot the bill.

Mr Arif has been bullish in the run up to this Summer Ball, declaring privately that the event would break even and referring to previous Balls as "Undignified Raves" in the programme for this year's Ball.

The Executive Committee last night debated whether, in light of the consistent failure of Summer Balls to break even, such events should be held in future. The idea of holding smaller events such as a graduation meal or a Freshers' dance in place of the ball was discussed.

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Discussion about “Summer Ball Loss is ?14.5k”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. tom t   
May 26 2004 12:39

The effort required to organise such an event was massive, well done all concerned. I'm sorry for not personally attending. However, I'm sure the subsequent moaners who post will be at the AGM on Thursday, in dBs, to volunteer their services to make it a *different/better event* next year ;-).

See you there!

2. Seb   
May 26 2004 14:16

A lot of work went into the ball by the few people that organised it, and part of the underlying cause of any faults it has is due to lack of manhours available.

I dont see any reason that Summer Balls can not be organised and break even on their own. But in that case they need to be organised by a well manned committee, not by a Sabaticals and staff that have enough work to do already.

If a summer ball committee isn't elected and operating by the begining of the first term of the year, the time when you are most likely to be able to get companies to plan large sponsorships into their budgets, then it shouldn't be held for that year.

I am mildly concerned however by reported comments that suggest that the Ball should have a certain structure conforming to certain ideals of what a ball should be. If the Ball is not going to be subsidised (and it certainly should not be) then it must cater to the wants of the largest number of customers willing to pay for it, not to particular demographics of members that we might not otherwise cater for. If most people want a large, undignified rave, then plan that. It stands more chance of breaking even. That's just plain common sense.

And yes, I didn't do much to help out on this particular Union activity. Regretably I do need to get a 2:1 to get on with the rest of my life as I currently plan it. I don't think that pre-cludes me from making any coment, and I will be at the AGM tomorrow.

May 26 2004 16:57

So do you think it should be renamed the Imperial Summer Event, then?

May 26 2004 18:54

Yep, organising dinners at college can be a real pain given general college stresses.

Has anyone considered invited some alumni to the summer ball?

In general, alumni can afford to spend a bit more on tickets and this helps to keep the student ticket price reasonable.

A similar system works well for the CGCA annual dinners. Speak to a past CGCA Rep. for further details.


May 26 2004 19:06

We have a separate Commem Ball Committee, and ICSM have just elected a specific Summer Ball Chair, so it follows that a theoretically even bigger event should certainly have a dedicated group. That way they can also all pester their friends to go along (try going into our library during lunchtime this week without being sold a ball ticket- possibly slightly more convincing than some Union staff wearing stickers...)

Otherwise, let central Union concentrate on the carnival instead, leaving formal balls to individual "F.U."s or combinations if they so wish (John's possibly going to kill me for suggesting such a big increase in his workload next year...), who could give a more personal event anyway as guests are likely to know more people there, or halls or clubs who also do their own things.

May 26 2004 19:09

...and of course if it's subject-based groups, they can avoid their own students' exams (the reason I couldn't go).

May 26 2004 21:19

yes, but then us poor computing students who actually want to socialise would have nothing to do :-)

8. Vinay   
May 26 2004 21:19

The summer ball was too early on in the term. Many students had exams during this period and becuase of that their friends did not go either. Pushing back the date to the beginng of June would be much better, since more students would have finished their exams and it would still not clash with any other end of year events.

May 27 2004 00:56

wasn't the date chosen because that's when the fewest number of people had exams. Oh well, obviously just us computing students.

10. Seb   
May 27 2004 00:58

Call it a ball. Just don't lets get boxed in to organising an event that corresponds to what we think a ball ought to be. Concentrate instead on what sells.

So yes, it's fundementally an event, not a "ball". The last few years college balls were more a carnival than a ball, and more carnival than the so-called carinvals. But then, must athiests call Christmas "Winterval"?

Pedentary is beside the point. Sales figures are what matter: they make the budget ballance and show that you are giving members what they want.

11. tom t   
May 27 2004 10:33

Yep! the AGM's going to be packed!

see you there!

May 27 2004 11:07

perhaps you should sell tickets...

May 27 2004 13:25

What AGM, I've not heard about an AGM!

14. ant   
May 27 2004 17:47

If you haven't heard about the AGM either read felix or read your email, if you haven't recieved one then moan at your department, or look at the posters on the walk way.

May 27 2004 17:54

Haven't received any emails about AGMs either from department or union. Don't recall seeing anything in Felix last week. Tend to ignore posters on the walkway along with the rest of the student population.

16. Ant   
May 27 2004 18:31

Obviously i can't speak for other departments but in Mech Eng I',m fairly sure i had an email forwarded through department that was from Union/Mustafa about AGM, and it was in Felix, 'State of union' is always a good place to read about union happenings....

17. Jack   
May 27 2004 21:43

Balls, Balls, Balls.

Leave it to the individual departments. Let the Dep Socs deal with it, or even just the students - for example EEE4 organised their own event (c/o Ping Chen). Last year ISE organised a very successful event as well, at the rectors place.

If Doc students (and others) can't pull their fingers out, that's there own problem.

At a push let the FU's organise it, but the bigger the event the more problems there are. Finding times when exams don't clash and places big enough.

No to Unions balls! Give the Dep Socs more support and more money, help them get sponsorship.

And yeah we should all go to the AGM but lets face it; that would just suck balls and I would rather kick myself in them!

18. me   
May 27 2004 23:02

Personally I have friends in other departments and I would like to have a ball with them, unlike EEE4 obviously.

May 27 2004 23:13

"Personally I have friends in other departments and I would like to have a ball with them"

I agree - hence why I suggested the EEE4 gathering be combined with the Ball. But my comment was completely ignored. oh well. I went to the ball instead....

20. Seb   
May 28 2004 10:30

Yes, Physoc's organising a ball too.

If we could pool our organising next year and do it at the end of term, then it might be a bit better.

May 28 2004 10:49

Just got a message from Mustafa telling me that the AGM will be on Thur 27th May - very useful!

22. Seb   
May 28 2004 16:07

I think it's because College-wide emails get sent through ICT and are staggered so as not to overload the servers. The result is that you often get emails insanely late.

23. Seb   
May 28 2004 16:11

By the way, the Midsummer Nights Ball is open to everyone. We have several versions of the same event, and the more tickets we sell, the better it can be.

Ents tickets are ?18 and available from the Union front desk.

Includes substantial BBQ meal, bouncey castle, giant games, casino, live Jazz, other live music, DJ, there is a photographer, rides on Jez... some other stuff I can't remember.

More details, and survey for music preferences here.

May 28 2004 18:55

hmmm...reasonably priced and after people's exams. Should make this a big 'un.

May 28 2004 21:25

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

May 29 2004 10:22

Not impressed by the "substantial BBQ meal". Usually at these sorts of barbeque's you end up queueing for half an hour and get a half-burnt tesco-savers burger for your troubles. Then you have to pay like 10p extra for a drop of ketchup. Or 50p more for some onion. Absolute disgrace.

May 29 2004 10:28

And how are you going to have funky music, jazz, a DJ, and a live pianist playing at the same time?? Surely that would just sound like a car crash.

28. Seb   
May 29 2004 22:57

The BBQ has to be substantial in order to get the late license. We are assured it will not be just a burnt tesco super savers burger. As it is included in the ticket price, you should not be paying extra at all.

The music will not be playing continuously. The Piano is, I am given to understand, during the later stages of the meal. Jazz is in the SCR after the meal, along with the Casino.

The live band and the DJ are sequential in the MDH, not at the same time.

May 31 2004 13:56

Its a lot less money, and you get a lot less for it! Yous get whats u pays for...

May 31 2004 16:56

Inculding less time having to travel to somewhere which isn't in South Ken.

"not that impressed" go and do some work....

31. tired   
May 31 2004 17:31

It's a bit depressing when all anybody can say is "ball x is c**p" rather than saying "ball y is good because".

Put away your egos boys and stop being so competetive. They're *different* events doing slightly different things.

32. Seb   
May 31 2004 17:56

Depends what you want really doesn't it? Certainly, Summer Ball provided a very high quality event for people that wanted to go to that kind of event.

In qualitative terms, the only thing we are not offering is standup and alexandra pallace, as far as I can see.

I do think we offer more flexibility to take what you like at very good value for money. Jazz if you like that, cheese, live band and undignified raves if you like that, and a formal meal if you like that. Or any combination thereof. We are even taking requests for the music people want played.

Hope to see you there, and remember, if you buy your tickets this week rather than next week, we can go for the dulux option.

33. Seb   
May 31 2004 17:59

And you don't just get's what you pays for. You also gets what our sponsors pays for. Something like ?3000 of sponsorship. :)

May 31 2004 21:25

I'm impressed. Except for the bit about the 'dulux option'.

35. Seb   
May 31 2004 22:43

Well, you can't please everyone. We'd rather not make a loss, so our events are designed to be scaled up rapidly.

The more people buy

tickets, the better we can make it: more casino tables, drinks reception etc.

Jun 02 2004 12:20

"if you buy your tickets this week rather than next week, we can go for the dulux option"

Wow! Even Wye Commem doesn't have the option of scaling up into a PaintBall!

Jun 02 2004 13:15

Does that mean lots of big fluffy sheepdogs?

Jun 02 2004 13:47

For the sake of the reputation of my campus I should probably duck out of this thread now that the s-word (as in s****-dogs) has been mentionned...

39. Seb   
Jun 02 2004 17:00

Oh... not you too nichola... don't join the dark side of union pedantry.

Jun 02 2004 20:03

I was faced with the choice between Union pedantry and Hydrology revision. Hmm...

41. Seb   
Jun 14 2004 00:54

Well that was fantastic :)

We sold out, everyone had a great time, we even made money... I pity all those that did not buy a ticket.

Something to note for ball organisers, the skew towards ents only tickets was greater than we orrigionaly expected, with roughly only 15% of all tickets sold being dinner+ents rather than ents only. We could happly have accomodated far more people for dinner but people just didn't want that.

Good luck with the Cricket Week and Commem Nichola! I'm affraid I shall probably not be able to afford to attend now.

42. Seb   
Jun 14 2004 00:56

And due to the cunningness of the terribly helpful dramsoc, to whome we are eternaly greatful, drapestar and the committe, the Jazz band and the other band both played at the same time with no trouble at all, despite the great fears of the unimpressed people out there.

Jun 14 2004 10:04

Well done for proving that balls can make money.

I just hope that the organiser remembers his promise to the cloakroom workers of 'If we make a profit we'll make a donation to RAG'

44. Seb   
Jun 14 2004 11:53

You will have to talk to James (chair) or Bret (treasurer) about that.

Did the cloakroom do well?

Jun 14 2004 18:02

The Cloakroom on its own didn't make a huge sum (around ?30) but throughtout the day (at IC04) around ?100 in total was made by selling RAG mags and general collecting.

Anyone needing a cloakroom for future event please feel free to email me!

46. Gary   
Jun 15 2004 11:32

Photos of the PhySoc Ball can be found here (thanks to Andy Allan on this occasion).

Seb - for future reference we've decided that if events like this have a bouncy castle, then there should be two - one for the punters and one for the crew/stewards ;-)

Jun 15 2004 19:35

A bouncy castle for stewards in future! Does that include bored (?) cloakroom staff? If so FANTASTIC!

ps I'm afraid the question mark after the word 'bored' is for the benefit of the cloakroom staff who were at the ball.

48. Seb   
Jun 16 2004 15:01

Heh... you have no idea how much trouble that castle was... and the thing is... I never had a chance to go on it!

Thanks for the photos.

Jul 26 2004 13:25

The reason the ball lost money was due to a number of fundamental reasons:

The price of the tickets. I can't remember how much they were costing but I do remember that they were far more than other universities. A fancy location does not encourage me to fork out the money.

The location, how many people want to spend time on the bus after having 10 pints, not many!

They missed the point. The point of a ball is to have a good time and chill out with mates. The grounds only act as a place to have it, the food doesn't matter either. However, importantly, the drink does, as it acts as the social lube!

The lack of student diversity. We're an interesting bunch, but not the best at relaxing and socialising, hardly surprising when you consider the stresses we're under. To remove this problem the ball could be joint run with another close university. This would also allow the organisation to be spilt between two parties, removing the problem of not enough "man hours"

People organising the ball should go to others once in a while to try to understand what they are really about.

50. JayC   
Aug 26 2004 22:03

you could try always try getting all the various Soc's to Plan together. All plan for their own students and all share a venue and entertaninment.. share the load so to speak but i reckon that if they individually pull people into the ball and get people involed from the very beggining of the year than its far, far more likely to be a success.. sorry if someone has already said this (i didnt read all of the comments)

Aug 27 2004 11:54

by the socs i meant the Department Soc's like EESoc but i suppose getting others in on the act would do no harm... hopefully...

52. Seb   
Aug 27 2004 15:00

I'm in two minds about that.

I think what would really work best is a dedicated group that is used to working in a team. DepSocs are capeable of organising large events, but could they all work together, without loosing sight of their core objectives.

Would they do it?

I think it's probably best to have a proper, dedicated committee set up (maybee even a Summer Ball Soc?) properly at the begining of each year, taking people who have already cut their teeth in Depsoc event running and want to try their hand at something larger.

While superficialy, you would think by getting all the Depsocs to muck in you would get a huge amount of man hours, I suspect you would loose the efficiency inherent in teams that are used to working with each other, and the interest that leads them to spend vast amounts of their own time getting the best value for money rather than "the easiest option".

Plus, the big thing Summer Ball really needs to do is get sponsorship. I understand that there was something like only ?5000 or less of sponsership for this years ball. There ought to be more, but that requires people to start soliciting properly (not just sending of letters or the odd phone call, but actually putting some serious hours in, calling back and building relations with the contactees etc.) during the winter term. ACtually, during the Summer holidays would be even better. The longer you give companies to fit any expenditure into their accounts for the year (which is due April), the higher the chance of success.

Marketing also needs to be gearing up slowly from the begining of the second term really, in a series of stages, rather than just posters and emails during the summer term.

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