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The Government has put out a call for a Stage Challenge substitute, to the delight of South Canterbury schools.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced last week the Ministry of Education had allocated $267,000 for the next two years for an alternative to the recently cancelled 25-year-old Stage Challenge performing arts competition.

The ministry is asking for expressions of interest from those wanting to host the school-level event.

“Like many people I thought regional and national activities of this sort were too important to lose,” Mr Hipkins said.

Timaru Girls’ High School principal Sarah Davis said the school was “delighted” to hear a replacement for Stage Challenge might be established.

She said the school had attended Stage Challenge every second year, alternating with hosting a school production.

“Already some girls have voiced concerns about not having a Stage Challenge.”

The school would “definitely” look at attending any replacement event that started up, she said.

Craighead Diocesan School principal Lindy Graham said a substitute performing arts event would be “fantastic”, but probably too late for 2018 if organisers were looking at keeping the event in the same timeframes as Stage Challenge.

the process of organising a substitute event would be completed by the end of term 1 this year for activities to be held from the term 2.

Ms Graham said she hoped any replacement competition would be at a regional rather than local level

so pupils “from smaller centres have a chance to be competitive with respect to staging, lighting, choreography and performance”.

Pupils also got the chance see the performances of larger, city schools, as well as travelling to the events as a team, she said.

“For schools such as ours, it’s also about the ‘whole experience’ – not only weeks of rehearsals under student leadership, but the actual travelling together as a united school community.”

The Stage Challenge Foundation announced the closure of the annual schools performing arts earlier this year, due to the financial cost of hosting the events.