Eskdale Festival is ‘crucial’ for creative arts

Eskdale Festival of Arts, Whitby Pavillion. Fyling Hall winners.
Eskdale Festival of Arts, Whitby Pavillion. Fyling Hall winners.

The chairman of the Eskdale Festival of the Arts, Dave Bradley, is committed to involving more schools than ever before in the annual festival which is held in March at Whitby Pavilion.

Last year, the festival attracted more than 2,500 entries involving 500 young people and 200 adults.

However, Mr Bradley is keen for these numbers to increase in the coming years because the arts curriculum in schools has been increasingly squeezed by successive governments.

“Britain’s creative industries are the envy of the world and over 5.2% of the UK’s economy is tied up in them but over the last ten years many schools have had to reduce time spent on arts subjects,” he said.

“Headteachers are under enormous pressure to produce the very best SATs results and the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) has further reduced the number of students taking music, drama, art and dance at the age of 16.

“I believe that participation in arts festivals, like ours, is crucial if we are to maintain our expertise in the creative sector.”

The Eskdale Festival of the Arts was established in 1902 and is an annual event. It offers opportunities for singers, speakers, choirs, solo musicians, actors and musical ensembles to perform and compete in a supportive environment.

The event is organised by a committee and nearly 60 volunteers act as stewards during the festival. Local companies and charitable groups also offer financial help to stage the event.

Mr Bradley added: “There is a real sense of community during the festival and it provides opportunities for individuals and groups to perform and excel.

“You cannot underestimate the impact of a successful performance on a learner’s general achievement.”

Local schools, colleges and groups have been sent the entry form and festival syllabus for 2017. Further copies are available from Sue Rowland, Rose Cottage, Stainsacre, Whitby, YO22 4NT.

Entries are required by January 20. Entries received before December 20 will attract a 10% reduction.