Xavier Ball 2016 cancelled over funding issues

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Photo: Lorelei Pfeffer, Ampersand Media

Xavier Ball 2016 has been officially cancelled.

The cancellation of the ball, which was due to be held 8 October, was announced in a Facebook post by the committee. Citing an inability to provide enough funding for the Xavier project, which the ball benefits, the post said “To the St Andrews community and the wider Xavier Ball family, we regretfully announce that Xavier Ball 2016 has been cancelled.

“The purpose of the ball is to provide as much funding as possible to support the incredible work of the Xavier Project, and in its most recent iteration it became too difficult to fulfil this mission.

“We want to take this time to thank the many members of the XB family who have built and shaped the event over the years, and we hope you remain loyal supporters in the years to come.

“The current committee is hard at work creating new ways to engage with the St Andrews community and continue to support the work of Xavier Project.”

The Xavier Ball, which until 2015 was known as The Bongo Ball, has in the past been at the centre of controversy over accusations that the ball was racist in nature.

Some students had taken issue with past balls where students were encouraged to mix “African” tribal wear with black tie, with music and clips from Disney’s The Lion King often playing as part of the event.

Image: Jessica Biggs.
Image: Jessica Biggs.

In a statement to The Saint, Elizabeth Stockton and Samantha Marcus, the co-directors of the ball said that since the ball had been rebranded they had faced “issues with continuity and enthusiasm.”

Citing the rebrand from “The Bongo Ball” as one of the main reasons for the cancellation they said, “The loyal fans of both the Bongo Ball and the charity it benefits, the Xavier Project, are still in St Andrews. However, following the rebrand the connection between the two events was severed and we were saddened by the drop in support from the St Andrews community.”

Going on they said, “In the end, it was the fatal combination of high costs associated with the location and increasing fees to throw the brilliant party that we promised to guests weighed against our mission to raise money for the Xavier Project.

“Our aim is to enrich the lives of the refugees that the Xavier Project educates and works with, and if we could scale back the ball and increase our donation or throw a big party with little to pass along, it wasn’t a hard decision.”

In the statement, they also explained in more detail the financial problems the ball had experienced, saying: “In years past, we were able to finance the event with ticket sales as well as through selling merchandise from refugee enterprises that the Xavier Project has funded.

“However, our key supplier was fortunate enough to be repatriated and is no longer producing the Bongo iconic Rafiki fabric. The combined loss of name recognition of the event and side revenue made booking the ball a financial risk.”

Ms Marcus and Ms Stockton also confirmed to The Saint that while the Xavier Project in St Andrews would no longer raise money through a ball, they do intend to launch fundraising initiatives starting in 2017.

[pullquote]Xavier Ball had to deal with a rebranding as well last year so we lost our selling point.[/pullquote]

“When faced with the option of organising and seeing the ball through without making a sizable profit to donate to the Project, or cancelling the ball and redeveloping the XB into a purely fundraising endeavour that would generate significant revenue we could donate, it was a clear choice,” they said.

The statement went on to add, “We are already hard at work with the committee on how the Xavier Ball will emerge next semester.

“We are in talks with several societies on campus who have asked to partner with us to help raise money for the Xavier Project, and we are super excited to share the details once they are confirmed.”

Committee member Ian McComish also spoke to The Saint, saying, “I think the ball has just struggled recently to compete in such a saturated nightlife scene.

“With the emergence of new events and the current fad of themed nights at the Rule and the Vic, people struggle to fit large events into their schedule.

“Xavier Ball had to deal with a rebranding as well last year so we lost our selling point. XB is by no means over but an event in aid of the Xavier Project in the future will likely take a very different form.”

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