The EUSPBA is in a position to provide quite a bit more than just advice to back up the imposition it places on Highland games.
Historically, the EUSPBA has eschewed the model adopted by other large piping and drumming organizations here in North America, where the competitions are funded and administered by the parent organization. An EUSPBA Event Team model dips into that Canadian model and provides personnel to alleviate some of the games’ organizational burden while not really changing the current financing model at all. Since the EUSPBA is accountable to the membership, the team would thus be accountable for its performance to that same membership.
Granted, the EUSPBA is a geographically diverse association with regional competition activity that would obviously call for regional teams. The Event Team is one idea that invests in the longevity of our craft by helping the Highland games and festivals that are at the foundation of what we do as bagpipers and drummers. Haven’t read it all yet Vince, but I was speaking with Eric MacNeill lately about some of these very ideas.
As smooth as the PPBSO (and other orgs-just example) events run, we forget how many event there used to be before the turn key operations took over. They serve an extremely narrow subset of the public in spite of every effort to make them more generally appealing. Anything beyond that advice is naturally going to take the form of some sort of funding or spending.
Like any large and largely nonprofit endeavor, these undertakings rely on a team of dedicated volunteers whose enthusiasm drives the quality of the event. In what is really the flip-side of the current eastern US model, Highland games in Canada provide nothing to bagpipe competitions save the outdoor venue.


Expectations are taken from the shoulders of games organizers and placed on those with more accountability for the quality of the event.
The list of sanctioned games is also too numerous to devote effective teams to each and every one. With the right minds behind it, it could play an important role in the future of our musical efforts. The Chief Steward idea is a good one, but it is only a small bit of help for the games who still bear all of the burden of running a competition. And as hard as they try, these games have an annual challenge to draw the crowds needed to sustain themselves.
In lieu of any other brainstorming for solutions, we’ll tackle the subject here at Pipehacker with ideas that are hopefully actionable and concrete. As stated in my earlier post, the EUSPBA provides nothing save advice and expertise to the games who then are required to go about spending loads of time and money to conduct an event that hopefully lives up to EUSPBA and competitor expectations. Bagpiping competitions no longer become a logistical and organizational burden leaving organizers to devote more precious time toward the festival itself and attracting a ticket-buying crowd. The team model would also provide confidence that the competition will be run closer to the wishes and desires of competitors thus perhaps attracting more entrants to the games who are the beneficiaries of the team. As a competitor, I find it difficult here at EUSPBA to get in the gate without having to pay an entry fee. I think a happy medium of sorts would have to be met in order for this to succeed in the long term here in the EUS. One or two rainy years and these games are suddenly faced with the prospect of shutting down completely.


Entry fees are a pittance compared to the overall costs of a typical bagpipe competition but those fees could be redirected to be paid directly to the EUSBPA to further support the paid team. We must remember the EUSPBA is more spread out geographically than most Canadian Societies – which are typically one to two Provinces or smaller regions. The EUSPBA could perhaps create regional teams to make the $$ go further (less traveling plus more willingness to obtain teams and keep them happy). Add to this already stress-inducing burden spending money on a bagpiping competition for soloists and bands all imposed by the governing policy of the EUSPBA, and the games suddenly have one more boulder to roll up hill. There has also been the occasional steward training that teaches volunteers how to execute the events of the day to ensure a smooth and pleasant experience.
Larger events might merit the full team, while smaller events might merit a smaller team or no team, providing an incentive for the event itself to grow to a size that would then trigger use of the team. One hundred competitors at $25 each for a single competition is a decent sum that could be used to make the team idea more feasible. Many games can’t even afford to pay this, let alone pay to have an experienced team run the contests. The option could also be reversed, with the smallest events granted use of the full team and the larger events not requiring the team at all.
Why not throw more weight behind that very idea and instead provide a paid, trained team to organize, manage, and execute the event?




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