The June Ball Committee has agreed to reconsider musicians’ pay following an open letter by The Musicians’ Union of Durham Students, which reached over 350 signatures.
Initial opposition came from artists over levels of pay, which were typically lower than events at some other colleges. Palatinate has learnt of a large number of acts’ provisional wages, with individuals being paid between £22 an hour and £6.38 for 45 minutes.
MUDS have argued that this 45 minutes would actually become closer to an hour when setting up time is considered, placing it, in theory, below the minimum wage.
The open letter states that fair payment should also consider practise and preparation time. Palatinate has been told that other college balls often pay acts in the range of £200 to £250.
In an email sent on Thursday evening, the June Ball Committee told performers to “disregard any information concerning payment and ents discount received thus far”.
The Committee told Palatinate, “In hindsight, we should have probably asked performers for a quote before making them an offer, to check whether we could afford to meet their expectations”.
This comes after previous issues between musicians and the June Ball Committee. Last year performing acts were asked to pay up to £70 for a meal ticket, after the previous year’s ball went over budget by £23,000.
Committee members have also suggested on Facebook posts that playing at June Ball is more than just being paid, with one suggesting that it is “really about pride in contributing to the community, not about employment”.
The June Ball Committee commented to Palatinate: “It was never our intention to insult musicians, and we greatly appreciate the value that they add to the ball.
“We thought that the payment options we offered were reasonable, but clearly they were not in line with the musician’s expectations and were well below what they usually get paid.
“Never, neither before nor after the publication of this open letter, did we think that it was a ‘privilege’ to perform at June Ball.”
The June Ball Committee met with MUDS on Thursday evening and both will release statements regarding the outcome in the coming days.
Photograph by Kleopatra Olympiou