Wollongong businesses that benefit from Southern Stars are being asked to help finance the show as budget woes threaten to derail the production's future.
It costs $500,000 to stage the annual schools' song and dance-fest at WIN Entertainment Centre, with ticket sales, sponsorship and a contribution from the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) combining to cover the bill.
While the department's contribution continues, a previous arrangement whereby it would also cover any shortfall in ticket sales has recently changed.
Southern Stars executive producer Barney Ellevsen said the pressure was on to draw capacity crowds to this year's four performances, on August 29 and 30 - and every show thereafter.
"In years past if there was a bit of a black hole there was the flexibility for the DEC to cover that, and now there's not," he said.
"That's nobody's fault, it's just state legislation.
"But now the danger is if we ever run into the red - if we don't meet costs this year - it [the event] won't happen next year."
Organisers need to sell about $270,000 in tickets to meet targets.
They are aiming to recruit 100 supporters as "friends" of the event to create a $50,000 "safety net" of funds to guard against any shortfall in ticket sales.
Each "friend" would pay $500 and receive two tickets to the show.
Mr Ellevsen said he hoped city businesses that benefited from the event would support the drive.
"Between 8000 and 12,000 people come and see the show," he said.
"A lot of them come from outside the town and stay overnight, spending on accommodation and meals while they're here," he said.
This year's Southern Stars show is the 14th.
It will feature rock, pop, classical and Motown acts, including music by Taylor Swift, Michael Buble and Michael Jackson.
Visit southernarts.det.nsw.edu.au and click on Southern Stars for more information on the Friends of Southern Stars membership.