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Stage Challenge return delights

A team from Wairarapa College won last year’s regional Stage Challenge. PHOTO/ FILE

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Schools will be back on stage this year to celebrate the resurrection of Stage Challenge.

The annual event was cancelled in November after last year’s event.

After more than two decades of showcasing young talent on the stage, organisers said funding had declined to the point of being untenable.

Less than five months later, Stage Challenge is back.

Wairarapa College won the Regional Stage Challenge in 2017.

Wairarapa College teacher Kathryn Houliston was delighted to learn the event would be going ahead this year.

“It’s promising news to hear the government’s going to put some money into it and see the importance of the event.”

It would be all hands on deck when students returned from school holidays to bring together a team and theme for this year’s performance.

Typically the college’s students were asked to express their interest in performing at the end of the year. Planning would begin in earnest at the beginning of the new school year.

A committee of senior students would then take shape around February or March, giving them a few months to prepare.

Ms Houliston was looking forward to hearing about what similarities or differences the new event would bring, as well as discussing the good news with her students.

“When I get back to school I think there will be some pretty excited students.”

A team from Wairarapa College won last year’s regional Stage Challenge. PHOTO/ FILE

When the choice to put the event on ice was announced in November last year, Stage Challenge Foundation chairman Lester Taylor said several factors came into the decision.

“The current economic conditions would make it extremely difficult for the corporate sector to sponsor the event.”

He said major production costs such as venue hire, staging, lighting and sound had increased over the years.

When the axe fell on the event, education Minister Chris Hipkins pledged to provide new opportunities for children and young people to engage in events that promoted music, drama and dance.

On Tuesday, Mr Hipkins announced that Stage Challenge would go ahead this year.

He said he could not stand by and let the event disappear from the school performing arts calendar and was pleased with the event’s new organisers, Rockquest.

“Rockquest has a great track-record of delivering successful, large-scale performance events for all ages and cultures and already has strong relationships with schools.

“[The events] are a great opportunity for young people to affirm and celebrate their culture and identity, be creative, and increase their confidence and leadership.”

Rockquest will receive a one-off grant of $800,000 while the ministry develops a long-term solution.

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