A north-east council has warned that a popular schools competition may not go ahead due to the “fragile” finances of organisers, the Evening Express can reveal today.
Vincent Docherty, head of education at Aberdeenshire Council, said there is a chance the upcoming Rock Challenge event at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre may be cancelled.
The council boss told the Evening Express of the risk schools face if they continue planning the typically extravagant productions the contest is known for.
Rock Challenge organisers today insisted next month’s events, on March 28, 29 and 30, are not at risk of cancellation.
Schools across the north-east have been competing in Rock Challenge events since 2000.
The contest tasks pupils with addressing a social issue of their choice through dance and drama, competing in local heats, before progressing to regional and national finals.
Mr Docherty said: “While the council has received ongoing assurances the events will go ahead as planned, given the fragility of the current financial situation of the organisations involved, we felt it important to inform all participating schools of the risk of continuing to fundraise and prepare for an event which may have to be cancelled at short notice.
“We understand the significant contribution participating in the Rock Challenge makes to school and community life.
“We share in the disappointment pupils will feel in having to make plans during such an uncertain time for the organisers and hope this will be resolved soon.
“We are expecting to hear from the producer of the Global Rock Challenge in the next few days as to whether sponsorship has been secured and if the events will be able to progress.
“If not, we’re encouraging schools to carefully consider whether they continue to prepare, or discuss alternatives at a local level, such as performing for their school or local community audience.”
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The news comes a week after Mackie Academy head teacher Louise Moir wrote to parents and participants about the risk of fundraising for an event that might not happen.
A spokeswoman for the competition told the Evening Express that contracts were due to be signed with the AECC and schools would hear from the organisers in the coming days.
She said: “We want to fulfil the sponsorships that we’ve received by putting on the rest of the shows. We want to stage all the shows that were originally scheduled.”
The spokeswoman pledged that all slated events, including regional and national finals, were expected to go ahead.
She said: “There was a lot of outstanding sponsorship money we never had, but a lot of them want to see the events go ahead because schools have already started preparing.
“So we think it’s realistic to say they will all be going ahead.”
The representative also issued a message to participants of the competition.
She said: “We’re committed to ensuring the events are going ahead, we understand all the work that has gone into producing the event so far and we look forward to seeing everyone there.”