Theatre bosses in Inverness have stepped in to provide an exciting new focus for children who were left devastated by the cancellation of one of the biggest annual dance contests in the country.
Pupils from across the Highlands and north-east traditionally spent months each year perfecting routines for the Rock Challenge event.
Organisers however pulled out of hosting the event in the coming year, which has prompted Eden Court Theatre to stage their own show in March.
Chief Executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said: “Eden Court is delighted to be working with local partners to deliver an event that provides Highland young people with what has proven to be for many the opportunity of a lifetime to shine.”
Steve Walsh, chief executive of High Life Highland, added: “We are confident that together we can build on what was a well-regarded and popular event.
“I would encourage schools and young people to keep rehearsing and developing their programmes while we do all we can with our partners to ensure that there will be a high quality event next year”.
The cancellation of the hire of Eden Court in March 2020 became a major disruption to theatre business.
It was too late to replace the Rock Challenge dates with other kinds of live performance, and the October 2019 – March 2020 season brochure has already been published.
Theatre bosses announced: “We will collaborate to find a way for all of the young people planning to take part in Rock Challenge to come together at Eden Court on the original dates planned to showcase their talents and participate in some form of competition.
“We recognise that there will not be the ability to move on to a national competition but are confident that the combined skills and experience of all partners will enable us to deliver a fantastic prize that excites young people and has a lasting impact on creativity in Highland schools.
“We are very much in the early stages of agreeing the shape of activity in March 2020. We will, through our partnership and close relationship with the Highland Council, issue information to schools with more information before Thursday, October 10.”
Highland councillor Alister Mackinnon, said the demise of Rock Challenge was a huge blow to the pupils, teachers and parents who were involved in the event – but congratulated those involved in creating a new event to “keep children motivated”.
The Dingwall and Seaforth councillor said: “I have seen the benefit the pupils received from being involved in the Rock Challenge events and thankfully we will see the same enthusiasm at the new event.”