Originally published in Volume IV, Issue 4 on 14th November 1997 by Alan Torney.
Tonight’s Christmas Ball has been dramatically scaled down at short notice, after an agreement to allow use of the restaurant building was obstructed by the canteen’s manager, Mr. Dennis Hurley.
At a meeting on November 25th, Hurley indicated his reluctance to allow the student party because an SU boycott that month had cost the restaurant as much as £4,000. Now the Students’ Union itself faces bills approaching £4,000 from promoters whose acts had been booked for the restaurant, but were cancelled with just one week’s notice.
The SU claims it had received verbal confirmation of the booking from Mr. Hurley over two months ago, on October 3rd. This date precedes the SU restaurant boycott. Union President, Ian Walsh, has told the University Observer that the first indication he received of any problem with the use of the facility was at the meeting two weeks ago.
Over the following week, Ian Walsh claims that Hurley continued to postpone his decision, despite being informed that expensive acts had been booked, and that thousands of pounds stood to be lost through late cancellations. Last Wednesday evening, after fruitless attempts to get the go ahead, “or indeed any clear decision” form Hurley, Walsh decided to cancel the four acts booked for the restaurant.
The acts included “Fabio” and “DJ Addiction”, which total fees of £2,200 for the performances. “Afrika Bambaataa” were expected to perform for fees and expenses of £1,500. In addition, “The Psychonauts” had been booked, and were to receive £1,000 plus expenses for the appearance.
The promoters involved have agreed some reduction in their clients’ fees, but the SU will still be expected to foot a bill approaching £4,000 in total. Three of the acts which were cancelled were being handled by Quadrophonic Promotions. The company’s MD, Mr. Brian Spollen, speaking to the University Observer, said “you’ll find that the contract will state that any cancellations within two weeks of a gig result in the total fee being charged. When you’re dealing with the biggest acts in the world, you cannot be rearranging events at the last minute.”
Mr. Spollen continued, “however I understand that in this case it was not the SU’s fault – that an industrial dispute was the problem. We hope to come to some arrangement whereby the acts might return to UCD in February.”
The College Buildings Committee passed a resolution two years ago that recommends the restaurant be made available to SU Ents on three or four occasions a year. Mr. Hurley, who was on holiday at the time of going to print, has made it known that this arrangement is now in doubt and that in future, SU Ents may have to apply formally to the Buildings Committee each time the restaurant is needed.
Tonight’s event will go ahead in the Bar as advertised in recent days, with acts including “Boney M”, “ABBA-esque” and “the Delta ‘72s.” The number of tickets available has dropped from the original 2,000 to 750 and the price per ticket has fallen from £8.50 to £6.50. Sponsorship from drink companies has been reduced considerably – another factor which will cause financial problems for the Union.
This Christmas Ball crisis comes at a bad time for SU Ents office which is currently facing its biggest upheaval in years. This follows the surprise election of Niall Donnelly last week and the subsequent departure of the old Ents crew.