The Scottish Government’s Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop pictured at the 2018 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association is one of the cultural organisations in Scotland set to to be offered financial support while they remain affected by lockdown restrictions.

The Scottish Government announced a £10m funding package yesterday to help the events sector recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Funding streams will be set up to provide direct support to organisers of cultural, community, and sporting events, as well as to supply chain firms facing hardship, to help keep them in business while restrictions on events are still in place.

Announcing the funding package, Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop said the coronavirus pandemic had had a “devastating impact” on the country’s cultural, community and sporting events sector, including its Highland games and pipe band competitions. She said: “Whilst we’ve had the positive step that drive-in events can resume, most of the sector will be unable to operate for some time to come.

“We’ve worked closely and constructively with the sector on the challenges they face and they have brought forward some creative ideas on how they can begin to operate safely.

“In addition to providing immediate support, some of this funding will look to bolster innovation and aid the longer-term recovery of the events industry.”

The Event Industry Advisory Group said the sector had been one of the first to go into lockdown and would be among the last to fully emerge from it.

This is welcomed news from the Scottish Government and comes at a critical time for the events industry, who continue to be impacted by the ongoing effects of this pandemic.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events said: “Today’s announcement comes in direct response to the challenges highlighted to us by the industry through our workshops and the supply chain survey, as well as the ongoing work of the Event Industry Advisory Group.

“Sport, live music, entertainment and cultural events also play a significant role in people’s general well-being so putting in place support to ensure the survival of the industry and its diverse mix of businesses is vital.”

Linlithgow MSP, Ms Hyslop was the chieftain at the 2019 World Pipe Band Championships.

Stuart McMillan MSP said it was right to include the RSPBA in the new funding package as it “brings many people together and provides an excellent tourism and cultural opportunity.”

We asked John Hughes, Chairman of the RSPBA to comment but have as yet not received a response.

The RSPBA’s headquarters in Washington Street, Glasgow.

The RSPBA used a large chunk of its cash reserves on the recent refurbishment of its Glasgow headquarters. In its latest financial report, the organisation stated it had a cash balance of £64,522, of which £56,000 is from dues paid by bands for the 2020 season. Last November, Chief Executive, Ian Embelton said that the RSPBA expected payments from the five 2020 championships to cover a debt of more than £200,000 for cost overruns from the renovation. With the cancellation of all pipe band competitions for 2020, this, clearly, will not be forthcoming this year.

The RSPBA’s handful of paid staff remain on the UK’s government’s furlough scheme until October.


Meanwhile, Gerard McClumpha, organiser of the annual Festival of Juvenile Solo Piping, intends to proceed with this year’s event but in a modified format. He tells us that only chanter competitions are planned and only once the Scottish Government allows gathering of between 60 and 100 people to take place.

“We believe we can deliver a socially–distanced, safe Chanter event,” said Gerard. “All competitors and supporters are contained within the one arena, and with a handful of other measures which we will put in place we believe it is possible to safely hold this event.

“The usual age groups – Under 11; Under 12; Under 13 and Under 15 years – will still be offered and competitors will be allowed to enter both the March competition and the Slow Air competition.

“As a thank you for all the support we have received over the years, we propose to make entry to the various age group competitions free for this year. We also intend to make entry into the school for parents and tutors free as well.”

Download the entry form by clicking the image, right:

Email Gerard for full details.

Held at Auchenharvie Academy in Stevenston, Ayrshire, the Festival of Juvenile Solo Piping is a popular competition that attracts competitors from central Scotland mostly.

This year’s competition is schedule to take place on Saturday, October 17. The closing date for entries is Friday, September 18.