Published: December 08, 2019

Average World’s prize money increases by £83 for bands that make the list

The globe’s greatest pipe bands gathered in the rain at the march past of the 2019 World Championships. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s board of directors at its monthly meeting on December 7th voted to increase the overall pool of prize money awarded at the World Pipe Band Championship by £4,500.

With nine grades of bands, and six awards per grade, the average for a band that gains a prize would be £83.33, or about $144 at the current exchange rate.

The organization did not say if the money would be apportioned differently across the grades, or whether prize money for drum-majors would also be increased.

The overall economic value of the World Pipe Band Championships on its own is not known. Glasgow Live purchases the rights to the event, organizing and promoting it to the public at large. BBC Scotland also negotiates the exclusive right to broadcast the event. Terms of the agreement are not known.

An economic study of the 2018 Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping brought in around £2-million in economic value to the city. The two-day World Championships, while not official part of Piping Live!, is essentially the culminating event of the week, providing a captive audience for the festival. The two events are seen by most as intertwined and heavily dependent on one another.

The competition usually attracts around 200 pipe bands, mostly from the UK, but also from many European and Commonwealth countries, contestants travelling from as far as Australia, investing upwards of $150,000 to get to the event.

The Grade 1 World Champion last year received £1,500 (about $2,613) There is no travel allowance for competing bands.

The move comes at a time when the RSPBA is requesting that judges, officials and members “consider” returning their fees and/or allowances or donating extra cash to help defray costs of an extensive renovation to the organization’s Glasgow headquarters.

The project has exceeded £1-million, and was contentiously questioned at the annual general meeting of the RSPBA’s Northern Ireland branch on November 30. According to a recording of the meeting, RSPBA executive office Ian Embelton first reported that the organization has £112,000 in cash reserves, and then seemed to say the amount was actually only £35,000.

At the meeting, Embelton contended that monies to come from organizations buying the rights to the association’s major championships would build up its coffers over the next few years. He also indicated that the city of Glasgow was ready to extend its licensing of the World’s for another three years.

Details of monetary prizes across all grades at the RSPBA’s five major championships are not readily available, so it is difficult even to estimate the overall investment.

After the five RSPBA championships, the largest pipe band competition in the world is the North American Pipe Band Championships at the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario.

The event details its prize money on its website. Every band receives a travel allowance to help defray costs, the money increasing by distance.

With only four grades and six prizes in each (as opposed to nine grades / six prizes at the World’s), Maxville’s total purse is $55,100. The first prize in Grade 1 of $3,000 is about £1,700, already £200 more than what the World Champion receives. Maxville’s total pool of travel money allocated to pipe bands came to $23,100 in 2019.

Many pipe bands today compete with more than 35 members. For perspective, the price of a single eight-yard pipe band kilt is about $900, one pipe chanter can cost as much as $400, and a snare drum runs around $1,000.

 


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