“Championships around the SOBHD World” by Loraine Ritchey Highland Dancing no.7

Tradition aside, Highland Dancing contacted the international affiliate members of the SOBHD. The USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa. FUSTA (USA) and ScotDance, Canada replied immediately to our requests for information unfortunately, repeated e-mails to the Australian Board and Margaret Patterson were ignored and a South African contact could not be readily found before deadline.

The running of SOBHD championships such as the USIR, which essentially chooses the top dancers in the USA, and ScotDance, Canada Championship Series (a four day event), which includes the prestigious Inter-provincial Championship, which also chooses Canada’s Champions, is a time consuming and expensive undertaking.

(Note: The SOBHD World and Scottish National Championship held at Cowal in conjunction with a Highland Games event, also please note both the USIR and ScotDance Championship series travel yearly to a different venue throughout the 6 regions of the USA and Canada’s ten provinces, The SOBHD World Championship remains at Cowal)

FUSTA and Ann Johnson respond to Highland Dancing’s question on the USIR and North American Championship

HD-What percentage of the competitions over the last 10 years have been held in conjunction with a Highland Games?

FUSTA: 1995 inclusive of 2004- 60%.

HD-When held in conjunction with a Highland Games is FUSTA responsible primarily for the costs of the competition?

FUSTA: “At this time FUSTA is not responsible for the primary costs of the competition. However, FUSTA pays for all awards presented at the USIR.”

HD-Would you say holding the venue separately from a Highland Games is less difficult e.g. open-air venue as opposed to controlled venue ( indoor)?

FUSTA: “The cost to the host region in terms of dollars and man power is much greater when the USIR is a "stand alone" event. When the USIR competition is part of a Highland Games, the physical needs of the competition are arranged and paid for by the host games. The obvious advantage to an indoor facility is climate control. In most cases, host highland games, guided by the host region and FUSTA Liaison have gone above and beyond to insure the comfort and safety of the dancers.”

HD-Since FUSTA is a 501C3 are sponsorships for the USIR been given a tax deductible status from FUSTA?

FUSTA: “Yes, we do notify donors and sponsors for the USIR that their donation is tax deductible based on FUSTA's status as a 501(c)(3) organization.”

HD-Does FUSTA pay the travel and housing and fees (stipend) for its adjudicators? Is this money raised through donations to the region or through FUSTA?

FUSTA: “Not at this time.”

Ann Johnson stated the following in response to the number of dancers typically involved with the USIR: “The number of dancers is far less at the USIR. When the USIR is held in conjunction with a highland games near the US-Canadian border, we are more apt to see an increase in dancers who come along to compete in the other competitions offered. Even in years when FUSTA hosts the North American Championship, attendance by dancers who did not qualify to compete in the USIR is light. Unlike Canada, the USIR is not one of a series of championships or competitions held over a four-day period of time but the featured event. The US does not have the number of dancers or volunteers to support the kind of undertaking SDC (ScotDance Canada) does so very well.

HD-Does FUSTA organize the USIR competition with the region holding the primary fundraising for the event?

FUSTA: “If you are inquiring if FUSTA organizes the event even though it does not at this time pay for the event, the answer is yes. FUSTA does provide the host region with guide lines for running the USIR competition, however, FUSTA has assumed a greater presence at the USIR and in addition to providing all of the awards, it now provides all the necessary paperwork required to run the championship as well as the scrutineers, the computer and printers to run the scrutineering program, platform stewards (those volunteers who line up the dancers) the announcer, volunteers to organize the Parade of Regions, the presentation of awards, recognition of the teachers of the finalists, and the teachers of the five US champions. Since the host region is gracious enough to take on the USIR and the attendant meetings and social functions, FUSTA feels should assist as much as possible."

HD-What would you say would be major difficulties in hosting such a prestigious event (especially in conjunction with the North American Championship every other year. Does hosting the traveling N.American add to the pressure or expense?).

FUSTA: The challenges, which face the host region, are many; the two primary ones are securing enough financial support and having a large enough volunteer pool to meet the needs of the event.

ScotDance Canada and the responses from Christa Mackie

HD-What percentage of the competitions over the last 10 years has been held in conjunction with a Highland Games?


HD- When held in conjunction with a Highland Games is ScotDance responsible primarily for the costs of the competition?

SDC- “This would depend on the arrangement made between the host province of the dancing and the Games Organizer (assuming they are different)”.

HD- Would you say holding the venue separately from a Highland Games is less difficult e.g. open-air venue as opposed to controlled venue (indoor)?

SDC- “Yes. It is very difficult to find an appropriate venue for the Championship Series. Holding Games as well certainly adds complexity - likely why it hasn't been done in the last decade!”

HD- Since ScotDance Canada is a charitable designation is sponsorships tax deductible?

SDC- “Yes, within the rules and regulations for donations as established by Revenue Canada.”

HD- Does ScotDance Canada pay the travel and housing and fees (stipend) for it’s adjudicators?

SDC-“Yes, for the Canadian Championship Event only!”

HD-Is this money raised through donations to the region or through Scot Dance Canada?

SDC- “This is paid by SDC. A majority of the money is raised through annual dancer and professional registration fees”.

HD: The Inter Prov (as I remember when previously covering the event) usually drew large numbers of dancers. The last one I covered had nearly 900 would that be accurate today.

SDC:Winnipeg had approximately 700 dancers. In the past we have seen the larger numbers (1000+) in BC and AB. Prairie provinces being 600-800 dancers and the East, including Ontario between 800 - 1000.

HD- Does Scot dance, as with FUSTA and the USIR, organize the competition with the region or in your case province holding the primary fundraising for the event?

SDC- “Yes.”

HD-What would you say would be major difficulties in hosting such a prestigious event (especially in conjunction with the North American Championship every other year... (Does hosting the traveling N.American add to the pressure or expense)?

SDC- “Running four days of dance competitions along with social events and simply the logistics of welcoming thousands of people and hosting a well organized event is very demanding financially as well as on the human resources available to organize and work at the event. Budgets are typically between $200,000 - $300,000 per event. Good staging with proper warm up areas is always a concern, as is having access to enough hotel rooms in our smaller provincial cities/regions. The North American Championship adds prestige to the Championship Series and we are always proud to host it. SDC always has a second championship that is open to all Premier dancers, in conjunction with the Championship Series. Therefore, hosting the NA Champ. Does not add an expense or pressure that isn't already undertaken by the host province”. And Ms. Mackie also noted: “ We officially changed the title from Inter-prov to the ScotDance Canada Championship Series. The Inter-prov refers only to the Canadian Inter-provincial Championships, which is only one day of the whole Series. The title change was largely brought about by the need to have a more media and marketing friendly event name. It is also seen as more descriptive than the Inter-prov wording.

The SOBHD as confirmed by Shendl Russell, Chairman DO NOT run championships or pay for any expenses including the Commonwealth Championship which is organized by Billy Forsyth and Marjory Rowan and has return entries to the SOBHD offices. However apparently that is a private situation between those individuals and not a function of the SOBHD.

Ronnie Cairns, Cowal Highland Gathering graciously explained Cowals situation for Highland Dancing: “The number of dancers registered to dance at Cowal this year were: 4- New Zealand, 6-South Africa, 7-England, 24-Australia, 34-USA, 130 – Canada and 387 –Scotland. In general Cowal will pay all travelling expenses within the UK to get to and from the event, we also pay for accommodation and meals during the event. The SOBHD lay down guidelines for judge’s fees to be paid and Cowal pay 1.5 times this rate. The real question here is regarding the overseas judges. In the main we secure the services of adjudicators from the SOBHD Word wide panel who are coming over on holiday to Scotland at the end of August. However we have, in the past sponsored judges expenses either in full or in part. It should also be noted that all expenses are negotiable between the individual official and the organization. The Scottish National Championship is a separately registered Championship; therefore I am able to arrange for a full panel of twelve overseas judges, which I am able to pick from judges that have students dancing in the Scottish and Word Championships on the Friday and Saturday. Again usual expenses will be paid over and above the adjudication fee. Some of the funding we receive has some stipulations on how it can be spent, most of it being on infrastructure, i.e. capital spend.

Although I cannot give you any further information at this time on the funding of overseas judges, I am putting a proposal to our next board meeting regarding changes to the selection process for judges for 2005 onwards. You see I do listen! The Australian Board did sponsor one of the Australian judges this year and I am waiting to hear on other organizations that have been in discussions about sponsoring judges.

I am grateful of the support of the UKA, who have guaranteed funding for the Scottish National Championship over it's first four years and another sum of money over the longer term for the whole event. I am also grateful to Tartantown who came to me this year with an offer of sponsorship for 2004 and future years. I would hope that other organisations within Highland Dancing will come forward now and offer sponsorship of some kind to further improve the event”.

Of the organizations that responded none, stepped forward and offered to “host” a SOBHD World Championship so I would think for the near future, at least, those wishing a traveling SOBHD World Championship are in for a disappointment and Cowal can relax that for the foreseeable future they will remain the “home of the SOBHD Worlds”!