$20 sting for Southern Stars participants

Schools will pay a $20 participation fee for each student taking part in this year’s Southern Stars, an annual showcase of performing arts talent in the region’s public schools.

In the expression of interest form for the show, organisers said the fee would be introduced due to changes in available funding.

‘‘There have been many changes in regional structures and areas of funding within the DEC [Department of Education and Communities] and although our region is now substantially larger we do not have access to the sources of funding we were once able to use to support the show,’’ it said.

‘‘Southern Stars must become essentially self-funding and consequently we will need to introduce a participation fee of $20.’’

About 3000 students take part in the show each year.

A DEC  spokeswoman said the fee was needed to combat rising production costs and challenges in securing sponsorship.

She denied suggestions the department had cut funding.

‘‘The DEC will continue to supply funding to Southern Stars in the form of one permanent position which is used to fund the operations manager role, and some additional funding for other relief teaching.’’

Individual schools will determine how the participation fee is paid, but Shadow Minister for Education and Keira MP Ryan Park was concerned some students would miss out if the extra cost was passed on to parents.

‘‘I assume it would be a combination that if schools can afford to [pay] they’ll probably try to, but that will mean something else to be missed out on, or in many cases it will be a case of parents being forced to pay this.’’

About 3000 students take part in the show each year.

About 3000 students take part in the show each year.

The department spokeswoman said changes to its regional structure meant more funding was available to schools,  and it expected many schools would use this money for Southern Stars.