Government steps in to save school arts events

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today pledged to provide new opportunities for children and young people to engage in events that promote music, drama and dance.

 Stage Challenge and J Rock events have showcased the talents of budding musicians, actors and dancers from across New Zealand for the last 25 years, with financial support from the Ministry of Education.

But as costs have increased and corporate sponsors and local grants have decreased over the years, organisers the Stage Challenge Foundation says it can no longer deliver the events in their current form.

“Like many people I thought regional and national activities of this sort were too important to lose,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Music, drama and dance are an important part of the curriculum and for many young people are a way of expressing their creativity and building confidence.

“As a result, while the Stage Challenge brand itself is licenced and cannot be replicated, I am today inviting potential providers to put forward expressions of interest to run national and regional opportunities for students to showcase their skills. The Stage Challenge Foundation is invited to put forward a proposal.

“The Ministry has already allocated $267,000 for this purpose for each of the next two years.

“Because time is short, I have asked officials to free up more funding for the activity this year to increase the chance of it continuing, while it works with potential providers on a more sustainable, long-term replacement.

“The amount will depend on negotiations with the future provider.”     

The Ministry will now seek potential providers with the capability and experience to deliver services in the production of performing arts activities.

It’s expected the process will be completed by the end of term one for activities to be held from the second term of this year.

Mr Hipkins said performances that are designed and led by the students themselves provide a valuable opportunity to build leadership skills while promoting teamwork and commitment. They also allow students to work alongside industry professionals in staging, lighting and video production.