Charity ball presents good ticket sales
By Joshua Budd
Organizers of this year's Charity Ball are confident enthusiasm for the event is on the rise despite several years of low student turnout.
Allison Gibson, Charity Ball commissioner for the University Students' Council, is hoping the ball will raise $15,000 for both the Canadian Red Cross Society-London Middlesex Branch and Street Connection, a London shelter which provides counselling and assists street youths searching for work.
If proceeds reach Gibson's expectations, this year's ball could double last year's donation of $7,500 to each of two different charities.
This year's ball is scheduled for this Saturday and as of yesterday 1,780 tickets have been sold from a total of 2,500 available tickets.
Gibson said she is expecting to break the 2,000 mark in ticket sales without a problem despite the $25 ticket price, up $5 from last year.
"We are trying to put charity back into the Charity Ball," Gibson said. "I raised the price because I was not satisfied with previous donations."
Gibson said there is a renewed interest in the Charity Ball this year and it is becoming a Western tradition again. For this reason, she is confident people will not mind the extra $5.
The annual Charity Ball used to be one of the most popular and successful events on campus. In 1990 the ball sold 2,100 tickets the maximum capacity in five hours. Students lined up before sunrise to buy their tickets. Three charities shared proceeds from the ball totalling approximately $50,000.
In 1993, however, the fund-raiser took a dive. The ball managed to sell only 500 tickets. Since then interest in the event has slowly been recovering.
In previous years, when the ball was located at the Western Fairgrounds, problems with drunkenness and fights gave the ball a bad reputation.
Gibson said everything has changed since then.
She is expecting students will act like adults now that the ball is located in the London Convention Centre and is promoted as a formal event.
Gibson stressed although there is a dress code, people do not have to come in tuxedoes and expensive dresses.
"We don't want people to think we are elitist snobs," Gibson said. "But I don't think there is anything wrong with glitzy."
She said she believes the location, decorations and the glitzy image will attract more people and in the end will raise more money.
Gibson explained the majority of expenses for the ball come from renting the Convention Centre and buying decorations for the Cruising Under the Stars theme.
Part of these expenses, Gibson said, are paid for by money raised through sponsors. She added there are more sponsors this year than in previous years but said it was necessary to help reduce some of the start-up expenses.
So far, Gibson said, everything is running smoothly despite a grammatical error on the tickets which reads "We request your presents."
"I'll take the blame for it," Gibson said. "My heart dropped into my stomach when I opened the tickets to see it. I was prepared for bad publicity but reprinting would mean extra expenses."