EASTERN Cape Idols hopefuls and established musicians have expressed their disappointment that the popular reality show will not be holding auditions in the province for the second year running.
Now in its ninth season, Idols producers have decided to host auditions only in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban next month.
This is despite last year's runner-up, Melissa Allison, hailing from Port Elizabeth.
Speaking from Johannesburg yesterday, Allison said the decision was disappointing given the vast amount of talent in the province.
"That is not cool ... I would encourage those who want to participate to get to where the auditions are being held. This is a case of if you really want it, you have to go and get it."
However, organisers should have made an effort to hold auditions in the Eastern Cape, especially for those who did not have the funds to travel to the other provinces.
Port Elizabeth-based jazz singer Asanda Bam said she was saddened by the move. "This is shocking. What about all of those people who do not have the means to get to auditions in other centres?"
Bay entertainment specialist Gary Hemmings, who manages Centrestage, was however unfazed by the decision.
"I don't think that it is anything to be up in arms about. You will find extraordinary talent in every little village or town around the world, so I think it is an economic decision on behalf of the producers, who I don't believe have a mandate to find the best artists in the country, but rather to provide entertainment for television," Hemmings said.
"The exceptional people will make the effort to get to the auditions."
Contest hopefuls and the show's fans vented their frustrations on social media sites.
Vuyo Bene said: "Do the organisers not know that some music icons like Zahara and Berita are from here? They need to make a plan. It's really embarrassing because I've been telling all my friends that I'm going to make it on Idols this season."
Idols SA spokeswoman Lani Lombard said production costs had been a factor in reaching the decision. "Therefore, we decided to do auditions in the big cities and send scouts to the other regions to find singers who they think ought to be heard by the judges."