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Secretary's Report 2018

Kettering & District Eisteddfod
The 109th Kettering Eisteddfod took place over four days in March and everyone I’m sure agreed was a very good Festival culminating in a lovely concert. We decided to use just two venues this year as we had lost a couple of sessions and I would like to thank both Toller Church and the Salvation Army for their continued support and help. I would particularly like to mention Derek Miller whose help on the evening of the concert, despite the snow, was over and above his remit staying right to the bitter end to help clear away after our guests had left.

We had three excellent adjudicators who all gave positive, encouraging comments about the standard of entrants but also expressed their sadness on the lack of entrants in some of the classes. This causes us much concern.

However I now want to take you back to the beginning of the 2018 Festival which in fact starts at the first committee meeting in the week following the Eisteddfod in this case March 2017. Naturally we discuss the Eisteddfod and each committee member gives comments. It was quite obvious that our numbers in some of the classes were diminishing and one of the first things we did was to amalgamate and pare down the classes offered. During the summer the section secretaries worked on their selected set pieces and put together a proposed syllabus. By the end of September the syllabus was agreed and printed and sent out to all our contacts by early October. The closing date for entries was December 16th 2017. This gave schools, in particular, but also everyone two full months in which to sort their entries out but this is where the headache began!! If I tell you that on 16th December we had just over 20 entries for the Music section then you will understand why. Theoretically we didn’t have a Festival and so after Christmas the ‘chasing’ began and I can honestly say this year this was extremely exhausting particularly for the section heads! With any Festival the adjudicators need 6-8 weeks’ notice of the proposed programme and their requirements so it is imperative that we need to get the programme sorted by mid-January. Fortunately through the continual chasing from both section secretaries we had enough entrants to be able to put a programme together and it was thankfully completed by early February. But when I give you some stats now you will realise the predicament we are facing.

We offered 180 classes overall but there were no entrants for approximately one third of the classes. Out of the 52 classes offered in the Speech and Drama Section 20 did not take place and of the 32 that did take place 8 classes had single entries and only 14 had more than 3 entries due to 9 withdrawals. Out of the 62 instrumental classes offered 29 (almost half) did not take place and of the 33 that did take place 18 had single entries and only 5 had more than 3 entries due to 15 withdrawals. Out of 64 vocal classes offered 20 did not take place and of the 44 that did take place 23 had single entries and only 8 had more than 3 entries due to an extortionate number of withdrawals – 23 in total.

February 1st is a significant date for us as this is the date which we ask for all own choice pieces to be sent in and for music to be sent to the music secretary so that it can be passed on to our accompanists for them to practice. I can honestly say this year trying to get the music in was a nightmare – it is a good job we have such excellent accompanists who are also very patient. It is a wonder Linda still has all her hair!! Trophies won from the previous year are supposed to be returned by this date – believe you me we still didn’t have them all back by the beginning of the Festival week – again a lot of chasing had to be done.

We are now approaching Festival week and right up to the last minute we didn’t know if the choir we had invited to perform at the Concert were coming or not! Needless to say they withdrew at the last minute and plans had to be rescheduled. The amount of withdrawals from the programme this year was beyond belief 47 in all – obviously having a knock on effect to timetabling and frankly quite embarrassing at times. After all an Eisteddfod is a competition and with so many classes of single or very few entrants this can be quite disappointing both for the competitors and the adjudicators.

Added to all this we had to deal with CPL this year – Child Performance Licencing. Another nightmare in trying to obtain all the information we required to send off to the Child Performance Officer in order for the Eisteddfod to even take place. Here we had to rely on schools co-operation with filling in forms with extra information and private teachers and individuals obtaining permission for children to take part. Believe me we received our licence just a couple of days before the Eisteddfod mainly due to the ‘chasing’ resending and reminding of forms we had to do. Of course we now have new data protection laws to deal with and so it goes on and on….

As well as our preparations for the Eisteddfod members have represented Kettering at the two Regional meetings held over the year and also at the National Conference – this year in Solihull. In fact it was an honour to witness Margaret Read our Speech and Drama secretary being presented with her long service award for over 40 years of dedication to the Eisteddfod – we shall miss Margaret very much and thank her for all her work.

In conclusion I must offer my thanks to everyone who supported the Eisteddfod this year from fellow, dedicated committee members, the very many helpers, the President and loyal friends of the Eisteddfod and to all those who took part - I thank you all.

Penny Payne,  Festival Secretary
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