Stage Challenge organisers did not claim a $5000 ratepayer grant to help run the event in Whangarei despite saying a lack of funding was behind the event being canned.
This week it was announced performing arts competitions Stage Challenge and J Rock were being axed because of an increase in costs - without a corresponding increase in revenue from sponsorships, grants, participation fees and ticket sales - listed as some of the reasons leading to the decision.
However, the Northern Advocate has discovered the Stage Challenge Foundation did not claim a $5000 grant allocated by Whangarei District Council for the 2016/17 financial year to help run the event in the district.
The Northern Advocate tried to contact Stage Challenge organisers but received no reply as of edition time yesterday. The charity relied on government and corporate sponsorships, grants, participation fees and ticket sales to cover the cost of producing the events.
As part of this the Ministry of Education had a contract with the foundation from 2016 to 2019 which gave them $267,000 a year.
Pauline Cleaver, Ministry of Education acting deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement, said the Stage Challenge Foundation informed the ministry it was going to end its contract late last year. The foundation also told schools of the cancellation around the same time.
"They did so knowing that funding of $267,000 a year was still available until November 30, 2019. We understood from the Stage Challenge Foundation that this would cover a third of their costs. Our funding amount has been renegotiated over a number of years and reflected a partnership funding model we had with the foundation and its other sponsors."
Cleaver said she understood corporate sponsorships and grants had significantly decreased.
"We know that the news has been extremely disappointing for the talented young people, their parents and the wider community who have supported these events," she told the Northern Advocate yesterday.
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said the funding is still available should event organisers find a viable way forward or should someone else decide to set up a similar event.
The Stage Challenge Foundation received Whangarei District Council grants between 2009 and 2013, and council-administered Creative Communities Scheme grants in 2014 and 2015. WDC did not receive an application from the foundation for the 2017/18 financial year.
Stage Challenge has also received sponsorships from the Oxford Sports Trust and the Pub Charity in Northland in previous years.
The foundation has yet to file its 2016/17 annual returns with the Charities Service, which is due by February 28.