Toer 2015 / Tour 2015 #001 04 November 2014 Dear Parents,
The ECCC has undertaken an international concert tour every two years for the past 22 years (11 tours in total), providing over 500 children with opportunities to perform their music to appreciative audiences in some of Europe’s premium concert venues and cathedrals. In addition they came to meet and befriend people from many different cultures and, through the choir’s full and varied sight-seeing programme, learnt more about the history of the places visited. Choir tours offer an extraordinary growth experience to our choristers – one that is difficult to equal. From a cost perspective the tours provide excellent value for money. Arranging a similar tour for your family, staying in youth hostels and eating the most basic meals, will usually cost more than double, or even triple the price. The 2015 tour arrangements are well underway. Herewith some details: Dates: Cost: Itinerary: Visa: Pocket money:
01 October to 20 October 2015 (depending on flight availability) ± R 20 000.00 (excluding pocket money). This includes airfare, bus, bus driver gratuity, visa, meals in transit. Sightseeing entrance fees, gifts to hosts, tour clothing and a R500.00 emergency fund. Currently under construction. Visits to Hamburg (Germany), Halle (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic), already confirmed. Schengen Visa. More details to follow closer to the time. Please ensure that you have a valid Passport (expiry April 2015 or later), unabridged birth certificate, and unabridged marriage certificate (where applicable). R2000.00-R3000.00 per child is more than sufficient. Management of pocket money to be discussed at a later date.
Payment schedule: 15 December 2014: 30 April 2015: 31 July 2015:
R 6 000.00 (First payment) Balance of tour fee (expected R14 000.00) Pocket money
NO LATE PAYMENTS CAN BE ACCEPTED. Parents who pay the initial deposit and then fail to make the second payment, stand to lose the airline deposit, AS WELL AS any other payments made on your child’s behalf at that point.
Please find a quiet moment to read and absorb what follows with care. SPONSORSHIP Although we work very hard at it, WE CAN NEVER GUARANTEE THE SUCCESS OF SPONSORSHIP APPLICATIONS. People who make the initial payment in the knowledge that the balance is out of their reach (and in the hope that a sponsorship will come through) not only give their children false hope, but also put the tour (and everybody else’s initial payments) in jeopardy. Please discuss this with us before making payment. Also take note that deposits paid over to airlines are usually non-refundable, meaning that you will lose your money if you are not able to cover the balance and your child ends up staying at home. Depending on the airline this can be as much as 50% of the airfare. If you are unsure of your ability to give your child this opportunity, rather inform them of the fact. Yes, it will be a disappointment, but giving them false hope can be far more shattering.
Eastern Cape Children’s Choir
Myth: If a sponsor has promised money I can expect the choir to advance payment for my child. The choir cannot assume risk on behalf of an individual. Payment can only take place once the money has been received, provided that it falls within the specified time frames. Myth: I can apply for sponsorship for my child from big corporations. We are in possession of letters from a number of big corporations, including the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council, GMSA, and VWSA, explicitly stating that only group applications will be considered. We are most grateful for any help and if you know of someone who can assist us with an application at the big corporations, please let us know as soon as possible, so we can work together to prepare the best application possible. Myth: Fundraising is not my job. FUNDRAISING IS EVERYBODY’s JOB! The purpose of fundraising is to obtain money from sources other than the usual (i.e. our parents). When an opportunity is created, success can only be guaranteed if each and every parent undertakes to support these initiatives through the sales of tickets, etc. In addition we encourage you to approach your children’s schools for assistance in the form of, e.g. civvies days, or maybe a movie night. Although it is against some schools’ policy to assist children, others have been surprisingly forthcoming with assistance. Myth: A visa can be obtained without a valid air ticket. Countries will not issue a visa unless a valid air ticket (paid for in full) and proof of travel insurance are presented. Myth: As long as I can get my child on a plane, he/she can tour. There is much more to a tour that just an aeroplane ride. We are dependent on the hospitality of the individual members of the host choirs. The European summer holidays last from mid/end-June to the beginning of September during which time it has proven almost impossible to get hold of our hosts to make changes or ask for additional beds. Our ducks therefore need to be 100% in a row by the end of May for a tour taking place in September. In addition, buses are booked according to group size, and ferry and train bookings are also made well in advance.
Myth: An unabridged birth certificate is the same as the birth certificate issued upon registration of birth. An unabridged birth certificate is a compulsory requirement with most visa applications. It reflects both parents’ names, ID numbers and places of birth and needs to be specially applied for from Home Affairs. Since 2010 your child’s visa application now also needs to be accompanied by your unabridged marriage certificate, where applicable. This can be done by obtaining application forms from the Department of Home Affairs (http://www.homeaffairs.gov.za/documents.asp), or their website, or by contracting an agent to do it on your behalf. Mr Johan Meyer from Timesavers has proved himself to be of valuable assistance in the past. He can be contacted at 082 227 7127.
1. 2. 3.
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TOUR Read newsletters and adhere to requested due dates. Apply immediately for a passport and unabridged birth certificate if not already possession of these. If your child has a passport make sure that it expires in April 2015 or later. Get involved in fundraising. Your initiative and/or assistance with even one project will be greatly appreciated.
WHAT ABOUT ADULTS ON TOUR? Finding willing and able hosts for a big group is not always easy. In order not to over-burden the hosts, it is therefore the policy that only working adults accompany the tour. These include the choir director (Lionel van Zyl), accompanist(s) (Amanda Engelbrecht), soloist (Undecided) and two to three “tour parents”, including a medical doctor. Tour organisers and committee members usually receive first option. The 2015 tour parents will be finalised as soon as we have a clear idea of group size, etc. This is a choir concert tour. The touring chorister’s first responsibility is therefore to the choir and the very generous hosts. Children will not be allowed to go on private excursions when activities have been arranged for the choir as a group. For obvious reasons they are also expected to make use of the hosting arrangements made on their behalf. Parents are welcome to arrange their own tour, attending concerts at their convenience and spending time with their children during, for e.g. shopping excursions. If the day’s activities, and bus space, allow, parents will also be welcome to join the choir during excursions (entrance fees will be for their own account). A note of caution: Experience has taught us that the expected arrival of a parent or parents can cause extreme anxiety in even the most secure child. IS MY CHILD NOT TOO YOUNG FOR THIS? Parents who doubt their children’s ability to cope for, what seems like a very long time away from home, are welcome to contact us. We will be too happy to put you in contact with parents and children from previous tours. One thing to remember: Unless specifically cleared with the child and his/her parents BEFORE the tour, NO child will ever be expected to be hosted on their own.
FINANCE AND SPONSORSHIPS – HOW DOES IT WORK? Annual Choir Fees come first Should the individual’s annual choir fee payments be behind schedule, overdue amounts will be recovered from tour payments before allocation to the tour account. No parent should be expected to subsidise another child / individual. What you pay covers the actual costs for YOUR child only. Prices are not inflated in order to generate funds to pay for others. Choir fees (apart from that in the approved budget) are not utilised to subsidise the tour. The choir’s financial statements (including the tour) are audited on an annual basis to ensure no irregularities occur. Any money left over after a tour is rolled over to the next. In other words, the 2008 tour benefited from the good organisation and hosts’ generosity of the 2006 tour. Similarly, the 2010 tour benefited from the incredible generosity of the 2008 tour hosts, etc. The choir is responsible for a number of expenses that, if no fundraising is done, would have to be added to the cost/individual. I am happy to report that we anticipate the current Tour Fund to be sufficient to cover these expenses. In other words, ANY fundraising done from here on will be for the direct benefit of the touring choristers. Fundraising is done as follows: a. Applications for major sponsorships that will benefit every individual child. This would be the ideal, but is also the most difficult to achieve. Anyone who has knowledge of the application processes of, e.g. the National Lottery is welcome to contact us to assist with the drafting of the applications. b. Applications for sponsoring financially disadvantaged children. Here we have experienced some success. However, this money cannot be utilised for anything other than sponsoring disadvantaged children, with the sponsors demanding full accountability of every cent spent. c. We call on parents to come forward with ideas and the willingness to execute them.
PROVISIONAL TIME LINE Shaded areas indicate Parent Responsibility ACTIVITY
Identifying general tour destination and potential hosts Ensuring that every chorister has a valid passport and an unabridged birth certificate. Establish tour dates The tour dates are: 29 September to 17 October 2014. These are subject to slight changes depending on flight options.
Provisional budget The final budget is usually only available between 3 and 4 months before the tour is to take place, due to market fluctuations, but we have managed a good “guestimate” for the past three tours. This at least provides parents with an idea of the financial outlay required.
Booking of tickets and payment of flight deposits The 2014 tour will require a first payment of R6 000.00 to be paid by 15 December 2013.
Issue of packing list and purchasing of necessary winter clothing items The suitcase packing list is issued in March as you will need to ensure that your child has the right clothes. We will be touring in the European Autumn, which means that they will need some winter clothes, of which there will be very little to be found in the shops in August!
Balance of payment To pay balance of airfares, buses, ferries and other “booked” events, tour clothing, visa applications, etc. Missing this deadline will result in loss of part or all of the first payment and forfeiting of the flight booking.
Completion of VISA applications If your child does not have ALL the necessary documentation at this time, they will not be able to tour, even if their fees are fully paid up. Remember, you can get a visa on short notice if you are travelling alone or in a small group. Embassies will not entertain last minute applications for large groups as they simply do not have the manpower. Medical Details You will be requested to complete a medical questionnaire detailing any chronic conditions and medication taken. The tour medicine and first-aid requirements are determined based on these questionnaires.
Before schools close in June
To be discussed
2 weeks before
A special note to parents of children on medication for ADD / ADHD: A tour is a time of little sleep and maximum sensory input – at times difficult to handle for any child. These children need their medication more than ever. Please do not do them disservice of choosing not to inform us of their condition, or deciding to use the tour as a “medication holiday”. Pocket Money Management of pocket money will be discussed in greater detail in future correspondence. Foreign Exchange
PROVISIONAL BUDGET / PERSON TRAVELLING As it is too early to obtain many of the rates related to travelling, I have included the budget from the 2010 tour. Expected variances: 1.
Cost of flights, depending on exchange rates, fuel prices and airport taxes.
Bus costs - we will only get a formal quote towards the end of March, when the full itinerary, including sightseeing trips, has been finalised.
Budget Per person
Airfare and Airport Tax
Bus driver gratuity
Sight-seeing entrance fees
Gifts to host parents
TOTAL COSTS (POCKET MONEY EXCLUDED)
R 20 000.00
We hope that you have found the information informative and that we were able to answer most of your questions. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.
Regards, Henriette Cell: 083 327 9220 (after 2pm, please) E-mail: [email protected]