October 22, 2019

World Solo Drumming judges asked to work for free

The RSPBA has reportedly asked judges at the World Solo Drumming Championships and International Solo Tenor Drumming championships to “contribute” their £120 fee back to the organization so that it could better cover the cost of new furniture for its refurbished headquarters at 45 Washington Street.

RSPBA headquarters at 45 Washington Street, pre-renovation.

Several sources confirmed reports that they received an email message with the request. It is not known how many, if any, of the 20 judges agreed to the offer and returned their compensation.

The association has also reportedly asked its branches for loans to help pay for the extensive refurbishment project, which started following a fire in March 2017 that damaged a section of the Victorian-era building. The renovations have reportedly exceeded budget.

The RSPBA provided an update on the renovation project at its last annual general meeting, as well as having a cash balance of more than £1-million.

About the request of judges to return their fee, one adjudicator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “I know the view was that each judge is only judging occasionally, however, officials are at every competition so it is not an inequitable process. Being asked to make a donation independently would have felt better.”

It is not known whether the same request was made of the many stewards and officials who worked at the drumming competition.

Junior competitors paid an entry fee of £5 to compete at the contest, while adult contestants had to send £15 with their entry. There were more than 100 drummers playing in the numerous events.

Prize money for adult competitors, including the 2019 World Solo Drumming Champion, was zero. Even the smallest solo piping competitions in the UK offer prize money for those in the “senior” events for pipers older than 18. Those 18 and younger do not receive cash prizes.

Andante Percussion, the title sponsors of the snare drumming contest, at one time presented a new snare drum to winners, but have since discontinued the practice.

At publication time, RSPBA chief executive Ian Embelton had not responded to a request for comment.

Pipe Bands Australia also reportedly took a loan from the Victorian Highland Pipe Band Association well into the six figures to defray losses after its treasurer embezzled more then AUD$180,000 from the PBA coffers.



Steven McWhirter: 2019 World Solo Pipe Band Drumming Champion
October 19, 2019


Fire at RSPBA headquarters under control
March 10, 2017


Australian losses exceed $180k


  1. Oh dear! there are a few things that stand out to me. 1. the inability of the RSPBA to procure the required funds to upgrade HQ without financial implications in other areas. 2. The fact that judges get £120.00 which is equivalent to an annual wage of around £31K yet the players are expected to pay an entry fee and receive no prize money. Without the players there would be no competition, no RSPBA and no Judges getting a nice wee fee (I wonder how many declare there £120.00 in their tax returns?)



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