The population of a small Central Otago town will shrink when the school choir jets off to Melbourne for a festival this year.
Dunstanza, Dunstan High School's choir, is the eighth recipient of the Jetstar Flying Start Programme grant, receiving $15,000 cash and $15,000 in travel, enabling the 52-strong Otago performance troupe to travel to the Melbourne International Singers Festival in June.
The Dunstanza choir will be on show at two concerts as well as taking part in contemporary and gospel music workshops with choral directors from America.
Dunstanza fundraising committee secretary Joan Boud said the grant allowed the choir to focus solely on rehearsing rather than on raising the funds needed to make the trip.
"Living in a small community such as ours makes fundraising more difficult because the same businesses, organisations and people are repeatedly asked for assistance. To have the opportunity to experience music in a big city will not only broaden the horizons of students but will also allow them to meet and work alongside world leaders in the field of choral music.
"The Jetstar Flying Start Grant will supplement the fundraising already carried out and allow us to make the trip more memorable for choir members and less of a financial burden on their families."
Head of Jetstar New Zealand, Grant Kerr, said the Dunstanza choir represents around 10 per cent of the school population of Alexandra. "So the impact for the entire community to celebrate and share in the trip is a really special and meaningful experience so we're delighted to be supporting these gifted young people."
Jetstar Flying Start Programme judge and rugby league legend Steve Price drew on his own small-town childhood during the judging.
"Growing up in a small community myself, I understand what a big deal something like this is, not only for the kids but for the whole town. I know every one of these students will never forget this trip and their experiences will last a lifetime."
The Jetstar Flying Start Programme, partnered by the Herald on Sunday, has awarded $270,000 in travel and cash to seven New Zealand not-for-profit organisations since early 2012.
• Applications for the next grant close at 5pm, June 30. Any New Zealand-based not-for-profit community group or organisation in need of a flying start is encouraged to apply. Click here for full application details and conditions.