Perth Highland Games Confirm the End of Solo Piping

The Secretary of Perth Games, Mr Brian Whyte, has now confirmed the end of solo piping at the popular games, as presaged in the Editor’s article of last week……….

Perth Highland Games committee has made the decision to omit solo piping from the staged events for this year. This does not mean that solo piping will not feature in future years, should circumstances change.

As you are no doubt aware, last year’s piping competition can at best be described as  a complete and utter shambles. The committee is of the opinion that there should be no repeat of this, as it is in nobody’s interest.

The decision to withdraw solo piping from the 2019 event was based on a couple of key factors.

It costs the games over £1,000 to stage solo piping, which is around the same amount, on average, that the games incurs annually as a net loss.

This of course, cannot continue or there will be no games whatsoever. In addition to this, our main sponsor indicated that they would no longer be supporting us. This has meant that we must look at all financial aspects more closely.

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As it appeared from our feedback, very few paying customers were interested in the solo piping event. This was confirmed by looking at where people were situated during the day.

While every other event had a significant group of spectators, the solo piping had very few, if any. Therefore, it was felt that dropping solo piping would not affect the gate and would go some way to mitigate our financial situation.

Secondly, we are a committee of ten people, none of whom have any knowledge of piping. For the majority of the committee, last year was the first experience of running Perth Highland Games, and this was also the case for the volunteers that we managed to obtain the services of.

This was no more evident than in the solo piping competition. During the course of the day, a number of pipers expressed concern regarding the staging of the event, and indicated that they would not consider returning to Perth.

Our volunteers also had issues regarding solo piping and were unwilling to offer their services in the future. Indeed, there were a number of issues that came to light on the day, which is not unexpected considering that we had both a new committee and a new venue, but none on the scale of the solo piping.

It would therefore appear that our small resources would be better utilised elsewhere, ensuring a more controlled running of games day. In short, the withdrawal of solo piping from our programme will save costs on tentage, judges fees and lunches, ground space, fencing and prize money.

It will also enable our human resources to be better employed with other tasks. We have tried by means of local and social media to recruit people with piping experience on to our committee, but have had no repsonse.

Given the lack of experience, high running costs and shortage of volunteers it was felt that omitting solo piping from the games would enable the games to be more cost effective and run more competently.

I trust that this will provide a satisfactory explanation of the circumstances, and whilst this may be disappointing to those in the piping community, hopefully our reasoning can be understood..

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4 thoughts on “Perth Highland Games Confirm the End of Solo Piping

  1. After many years played at last years event as a band member and was disgusted. PHG [Perth Highland Games] used to be a great competition for bands, solo piping and the variety of great Highland games events. Unfortunately it is now nothing more than a badly organised tourist attraction with little to no interest in Scots heritage. Last year the band competitions were tucked away at the back of the event, poor cousins to the burger van, etc, therefore in the spirit of piping, I would urge all bands to boycott the event unless the solo events are reinstated. After all we should be pipers one and all.

  2. Perth Highland Games

    I am shocked and sad to see the demise of the Piping contests held for many years at the Perth games. The event added to the atmosphere of the day and many visitors made their way to listen to the finest piping available. I would like to know why the committee state the cost of staging the piping to be over £1000………judges I am sure, would, if approached properly give their time either free or for incurred expenses only. And competing pipers are used to modest prize money or should/would be.
    Over a number of years I competed, driving up from the south of England with my family to do so. The games circuit should be regarded as vital to competing professional pipers and their loss would have a very detrimental effect on the piping fraternity. Please please Perth Committee reconsider your decision!

  3. The worry should be that other games organisers may follow this. In terms of finance, I suggested in a paper relatively recently games organisers/sponsors contribute near to £50,000 per year in prize money and judge fees a lot of which is raised in small amounts through initiatives by locals in the different localities where the games competitions are held. A lot do not have the sponsorship from drinks companies. The highland games organisers in fact do not have to organise and sponsor solo piping competitions. In my home town of Dingwall the highland games ceased many years ago. At that time the running of the solo piping competitions amounted to about £1,100. This was as indicated above for prize money and judge fees. The organisers and stewards were carrying out their duties as volunteers. It might not be significant, but for the last 25 to 30 years there has been a great many piping recitals held regularly within Tulloch Castle Dingwall and they have been generally well enough attended for the recitals to be sustained and continue to this time. I doubt if there many other places so well served in the country so well served with such recitals and the organisers are to be complimented and serves to show local enthusiasm. Nevertheless it was not viable to continue with the local highland games games in Dingwall and undoubtedly the cost of running the solo piping competitions was a consideration. Does this show a kind of dichotomy in the interest of solo piping? Care has to be taken of the smaller games competitions lest they cease and that would be a significant loss to solo piping as this has been the backbone of solo piping. The Northern Meeting and Argyllshire Gathering piping competitions are the pinnacles of solo piping, but their continuance as such as hopefully showpieces of what should be more of an art, than the sport ethic which is taking over in greater intensity is really in some ways dependent on the competitions which have less of a profile. I man “young” but old enough to have seen piping going through up and downs and at times it was and is evident that it can be quite precarious.
    Duncan Watson

  4. The article on Perth Highland Games is incorrect, in that I know of at least two individuals that tried to get on Perth Highland Games committee regarding Piping and they rejected the offer. This is a disgrace that in order to save money they are doing away with one of our traditional art forms

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