pe-hi-college-piping-show-4col

Summerside's College of Piping teaches bagpipes, drumming, dance and other traditional Celtic arts. (College of Piping)

Summerside's College of Piping, which had been struggling with a $400,000 debt, is looking ahead to better times after receiving a new funding package from the P.E.I. government.

The province is giving the college three years of operating funding totalling $225,000. That money started coming in last year.

"We have been in real trouble for the past two years and their support was incredibly timely," said college executive director Karen Hatcher.

"It's given us a bit of breathing room so that we can get our business plan finalized, which we did last month, and now we've gone from the creation, the vision side of it, into the implementation."

The college, affiliated with the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland, attracts students from all over the world.

pe-si-karenhatcher

The provincial funding will allow the college to proceed with a business plan, says executive director Karen Hatcher. (College of Piping)

The provincial money has moved the college out of survival mode, said Hatcher, allowing it to launch a new five-year business plan. That includes increasing revenues at the gift shop and a new donation campaign targeted at the school's 3,000 alumni.

The school is also looking to expand its distance learning program.

"We have seven Skype students ranging in locations from Massachusetts to Colorado, to Yellowknife, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick," said Hatcher.

"There's definite room for growth on this avenue of teaching."

The students learned about the college's Skype lessons from a post on its website and Facebook page.

The school hopes to increase the number of off-campus students using connections at other piping institutes in Scotland and New Zealand.