September 21, 2021

PPBSO gets cash help, resurrects Sherriff in online format

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has received a cash injection of nearly $50,000 in a grant from the Ontario provincial government after the organization submitted an application for a grant from the Trillium Foundation.

According to the PPBSO, the funding comes from a pool to “support community arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation organizations that are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the pandemic,” and offsets a reported 40% decline in membership dues during the last 18 months.

Like most piping and drumming associations, the PPBSO relies on memberships and payments from Highland games organizers for operating expenses. With no outdoor events in 2020 and only the Cobourg Highland Games held in-person in 2021, the PPBSO has worked to make up revenue and events for members with a series of online solo competitions in 2021.

‘At the moment we have no indication that any of the contests that were held as online events in 2021 will not be returning as in-person games next year.’ – Kris Bawden, PPBSO

When asked if all Highland games on the Ontario circuit would return in 2022, PPBSO spokesperson Kris Bawden said, “It’s our hope and assumption that there will be a full slate of games in 2022. At the moment we have no indication that any of the contests that were held as online events in 2021 will not be returning as in-person games next year.”

The online events were named after some of the usual Highland games that would have been held, including Georgetown, Embro, Kincardine, Fergus and Maxville.

The PPBSO also announced that the George Sherriff Memorial Amateiur Invitational Solo Piping Competition will be held in November as an online event. The contest was cancelled outright in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Details of the event were not yet disclosed, apart from the results being announced on November 20th after the recorded video performances in Piobaireachd, MSR and 6/8 Marches categories from the 10 competitors are assessed by the judges. The online version will be the twenty-fifth time the competition has taken place.

“The Sherriff” is the counterpart to the Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational held in the eastern United States since the 1980s, and uses an identical format. The Nicol-Brown recently announced that its 2021 event will be held online for the second straight year.

The last winner of the George Sherriff Memorial was Colin Johnstone of Aurora, Ontario, in 2019.

The PPBSO will report on its status, including all financials, at its annual general meeting for members on December 4th.

Before the pandemic, the PPBSO had a membership of approximately 1,100 individuals. The association requires all pipers and drummers competing in solo competitions or with a pipe band to be a paid up member, with annual dues of $45. The organization would not provide details, but a 40% annual decline in membership would likely be around $20,000 per year.

The PPBSO also charges an entry fee for every competition event entered. It charged $12 per event for its 2021 online series, which, the organization reported, attracted “nearly 1,800 performances,” or approximately $21,000 in gross revenue.

pipes|drums has been a financial sponsor of both the Sherriff Memorial and Nicol-Brown competitions for many years.



Online Nicol-Brown competitors announced
September 4, 2021

Nicol-Brown is back in October . . . online again
June 17, 2021


Marshall fields 2020 Nicol-Brown Amateur Championship
October 11, 2020

Colin Johnstone: 2019 Sherriff Amateur Champion
November 17, 2019





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