In another blow to the Ontario piping and drumming competition circuit, the popular Montreal Highland Games has cancelled all piping and drumming contests at its 2010 event, reportedly for financial reasons. The games have opted instead to hire several higher-grade bands to perform in a concert setting in a tent enclosure.
The Montreal competition traditionally follows the North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario, making the weekend a popular destination for bands across North America.
The organizers reportedly cited financial reasons for the decision, after bad weather had impacted the event for several years, reducing income from the gate.
“After more than a month of back-and-forth negotiations with the PPBSO, we could not agree on a fee for their services and the required contests to be offered,” said Montreal Games Chairman Kirk Johnstone. “If the games can rebuild its financial reserves, we will consider returning to the competition format in the future.”
Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario President, Charlie MacDonald, relayed the news to competitors in a message on the night of May 17th, and stated that, “[Montreal organizers] have indicated their intention to come back to the PPBSO in 2011 with hopes of running full sanctioned games.”
The event had previously opted out of holding professional solo events due to finances.
To have a competition sanctioned by the PPBSO, events must negotiate flat-fee terms with the organization to provide judging, stewarding, prizes, travel allowance and administrative costs. The RSPBA provides a similar turn-key contracting of events, while other associations, such as the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, allow competitions to operate in a more arms-length sanctioning relationship.
MacDonald’s message added, “We are confident at this point that all other advertised PPBSO games and events will take place as indicated.”
The cancellation of events at Montreal comes after the Chatham Highland Games cancelled its entire event. The Sarnia Highland Games closed down two years ago after attempting to re-start the competition. There are now eight events on the PPBSO’s outdoor games calendar.
Johnstone added that the Montreal event is still looking for one or two more bands to perform, and said, “Qualified bands could possibly cover a good portion of their weekend expenses for Maxville by including Montreal.”