Bands left out of funding round

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 10:27 24/01/2013

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Palmerston North's pipe and brass bands are deflated that all of them have missed out on Palmerston North City Council grants.

For more than a decade, the Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band, the Palmerston North and Districts Pipe Band, and the Palmerston North Brass Band, have received $3000 each a year. But under a new community funding policy, which requires groups to demonstrate how their work aligns with the council's goals, they have dipped out.

All are disappointed, and say the loss will make it harder to pay for the contribution they believe they make to city life and events.

Palmerston North and Districts Pipe Band chairman, and former city councillor, Ian Cruden went further, criticising the new system that puts decisions in the hands of council staff, not councillors.

"I'm of the opinion that's shying away from your responsibility to look after the community."

He said the group's 18 pipers and 10 drummers no longer competed, and, with most of them retired, people relied on them to turn out for graduation ceremonies and other functions held on weekdays.

Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band chairman John Cotton said the band was extremely disappointed. He said the council grant, while small, was an acknowledgement of contributions made on Anzac Day and at the Christmas parade, and of the work that bands travelling to compete provided as ambassadors for the city.

The No 1 band has seven times been New Zealand champion, further two bands were competing with distinction in their grades, and a fourth is being considered given a resurgence of enthusiasm from young pipers and drummers.

Pipe Major Stewart McKenzie said the group was staggered that none of the city's bands had received anything. "The organisation's three bands contribute a huge amount to the city and region, and are highly visible performing annually at Anzac Day, the Christmas parade, Square Day and numerous other community events, along with competing all over the country. The council, through its community funding decision, is basically saying ‘we don't value your contribution to the city, at all'."

City cultural co-ordinator Axel De Maupeou D'Ableiges said the decision did not mean the council had anything against bands. "We just don't have enough money."

A total of 74 community groups sought $3.2 million from the $1.2m fund, and priority was given to those who helped achieve council outcomes on a weekly or daily basis, rather than at occasional events.

The policy also favoured groups that demonstrated a high level of partnership with other groups.

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He said the bands would be eligible to apply to other council-managed funds for grants, such as Creative Communities.

Brass band manager and treasurer Christine Butts was struggling to understand the decision. "Most people think a brass band is very much part of our society."

The city council had allowed band members to use a shoulder flash that acknowledged its civic role.

She believed that the band's application had been a strong one.

- Manawatu Standard

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