Lauren Thomsen remembers being a Year 9 student looking up at the Stage Challenge leaders thinking "I want to do that job".

When she was finally given that position at the end of last year the Year 13 Whangarei Girls' High School student was "so excited".

But now she has been left disappointed after organisers announced Stage Challenge and J Rock events had been axed because of economic conditions.

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Stage Challenge, J Rock axed, lifeline thrown to performing arts hopefuls


"I was definitely upset, really disappointed," Lauren said.

Lauren went through an application and interview process to become one of the Girls' High directors.

"My first year in Stage Challenge, in Year 9, I remember looking up at the leaders and thinking they were so cool and I wanted to be them and I want to do that job.

"We'd already started organising themes and our teams before we'd found out it was cancelled so it was so disappointing."

Lauren said students were looking at the idea of finding sponsors so a Northland Stage Challenge event could be held.

The competition, which has been around since 1992, saw schools use dance, drama and design to create a performance to a theme of their choice nationally. Often schools tackled tough subjects such as euthanasia, rape and Alzheimer's.

Meanwhile, J Rock was for primary and intermediate school students.

Stage Challenge Foundation chairman Lester Taylor said several factors came into the decision to cut the performing arts events.


Major production costs such as venue hire, staging, lighting and sound had increased over the years, he said.

"The current economic conditions would make it extremely difficult for the corporate sector to sponsor the event."

Rio Tuson directed the Whangarei Boys' High School performance piece about Alzheimer's disease which won the Whangarei heat of the competition last year as well as the Ministry of Education National Award of Excellence for Concept.

He was "gutted" about the move.

"It encouraged people to get into the creative side of things and it was something extra curricular to show people their acting skills and dancing skills and how people progress in the creative arts."

Mr Tuson, who completed his final year of secondary school last year, said he was hoping this year's Stage Challenge would be more popular because of the school's success.

"Now that we won last year boys are going to be a bit more interested because they're going to want to be in a team that wins."

He said he felt for the students who wanted the chance to direct Stage Challenge this year but would no longer get that opportunity.