Durham University Music Society abandons Students’ Union

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Durham University Music Society (DUMS) is set to break away from Durham Students’ Union (DSU) and relaunch as a Durham Student Organisation named ‘Music Durham.’

Complications with the Union’s financial system and “inactivity” from student officers led to DUMS members voting to leave the Students’ Union in a referendum in January.

Frustration has also been directed at the Union’s structure, which members say does not allow DUMS to act as an umbrella society for music ensembles in Durham.

Lewis Wilkinson, the President of DUMS, told Palatinate: “Durham University Music Society was unable to be classed as an umbrella society within the Union – and we need to be, because that’s the way the Music Department do it in terms of room booking and instrument booking, etc.

“As far as I’m aware, the Students’ Union didn’t have a vision for DUMS.”

“Many societies have also had problems with the DSU’s financial system, which has led to embarrassing situations where professional musicians have not been paid for a very long time.

“As far as I’m aware, the Students’ Union didn’t have a vision for DUMS. They are committed to ‘student-led’ societies, which results in them rarely pitching ideas or actively seeking to meet with society execs.”

Ensembles within DUMS have now had to vote in a second referendum to decide whether they will move to Music Durham or remain part of the Students’ Union.

Durham University Brass Band, Durham University Orchestral Society, and Durham University Chamber Choir, amongst others, have all voted to break away from the Union.

Ensembles that move to Music Durham will receive support from Experience Durham, the body that coordinates Team Durham.

Wilkinson added: “The advantages of Music Durham are vast. Firstly, we will run an exec where the president of each society is present, so that societies know what each other are doing and musical activity can be better orchestrated.

“Secondly, we can be further exposed to people who value musical activity in the University such as alumni, staff, and patrons, who will provide audience for the music societies.

“Thirdly, we will be part of the same system as Durham Student Theatre who we are increasingly working with.”

“I think DUMS feel like Experience Durham will care for them more than the DSU does, perhaps simply because of inactivity on the DSU’s front.”

One DUMS member, Charles Price, told Palatinate: “I support DUMS’s vision, as much as any of the musicians do in Durham.

“They’ve looked at sport in Durham and seen what Team Durham has achieved, and are trying to emulate it.  They want to create a more professional unified body from which to coordinate music-making.”

“They aren’t trying to take away from the entirely student-run music-making experience at Durham, the ensembles will remain the same structurally, but they’ll have professional staff enabling them perhaps slightly better than the sabbatical officers at the DSU.

“I think DUMS feel like Experience Durham will care for them more than the DSU does, perhaps simply because of inactivity on the DSU’s front.”

However, response to the move has been mixed, with some students completely apathetic to the move.

One student involved in various music ensembles preferred to remain anonymous, and told Palatinate: “When it was first proposed last year, the idea was very flawed, with the motives not very clear. DUMS has been a lot more open this year under Lewis Wilkinson but the motives for the move still remain unclear.

“By moving, societies lose out on DSU grant funding and use of the fresher’s fair. Experience Durham will support high quality music-making and I feel the best musicians may benefit from this support, but this may be at the expense of the more casual music societies who look to be more inclusive.”

In a statement, Joely Charlton, Activities Officer at Durham Students’ Union, said:

“We are extremely disappointed that some music groups have chosen to leave Durham Students’ Union. There are many benefits associated with being part of the Union which are not available as part of Experience Durham. Music societies should not be forced to choose between being part of the Union or part of Experience Durham.

“We are very pleased that many student groups have decided to stay part of the Union as they benefit from being student-led, accessible, and open to all.”

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One thought on “Durham University Music Society abandons Students’ Union

  • haha genuine LOL what a terrible decision and very bias “journalism” may I add. Good luck with your new venture! LOL!

    Reply

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