Published comments about social
dance at Sidmouth FolkWeek, March 2011.
2011 was a challenging year for the
Sidmouth FolkWeek organisers as the recession really started to bite. Oxford Folk Festival
was cancelled. A weekend break at Halsway Manor with Kerry Fletcher teaching European
Dance also fell foul of insufficient advance ticket sales.
At Sidmouth, developments included
curtailment of grants from local government (except that from Sidmouth Town Council where
spending continues to rise remorselessly) and tougher trading times for some local
businesses (although many may benefit from more people taking holidays at home rather than
flying abroad). The vulnerability of the town to rising seas levels and other effects of
climate change continued to exercise a few residents - whilst most remain wholly
In the shorter term, EDDC may move its
offices from the Knowle, perhaps on cost grounds. This might free up the area previously
used for the Folk Festival Arena concerts to some type of development. FolkWeek
programming included a resolute commitment by Joan Crump, the Artistic Director, to
reverse the decline in social dance.
||The major issue for social
dance at Sidmouth FolkWeek remains not the quality of callers and bands but the lack of
venues in which a large number of expert dancers can dance to the best of their abilities.
Of the currently available spaces within the town,
only Blackmore Gardens marquee offers much scope - so it is welcome to see that it is
intended to be used for more social dance events.
Presumably, in 2011, it will also benefit
from a decent dance floor!
A competently laid dance floor, space in
which to dance, a selection of delightful partners, fine music, inspired calling, the
temperature neither to high nor too low, food and drink to hand - our needs are
Photo from EDS magazine Autumn 2010. Has
anyone got a better one I could use please?
Letter in Set & Turn Single, issue 68, March
In defence of the Sidmouth organisers, I understood that the promised extra social dance
venue [in All Saints Hall] had been carpeted, thus making it unsuitable for dancing. I do
however take issue with the fact that day time events were held in halls with a decent
wood floor whilst social dancers were told that there were no suitable venues for
afternoon workshops. Couldn't the singing or concertina workshops have used the carpeted
Having attended Sidmouth for a very long time, I can say social dance has often been
rnarginalised. How many readers remember dancing at the Bowd in the evenings in a marquee
with a very, very sloping floor? I fear that support for social dancing has been lost over
the last few years, along with a lot of goodwill. I will be interested to hear how Joan
Crump, the Artistic Director, intends to address this.
If I want to dance Ceilidh there are plenty of opportunities at Sidmouth. Social dancers
like the variety of music, styles, pace and formations. I suggest that the timetabling of
evening dances needs to be looked at. Of course attendance will be thin when the Playford
ball, Irish Ceilidh and a big contra dance are all on-the same night. Some would attend
all three if on a separate night.
However, I am not giving up on Sidmouth and-would urge all social dancers to attend at
least part of the week, otherwise we really will lose our element of the festival.
Comment from Barrie Bullimore, (Issue 68, S&TS
(as part of a long interview) ......I was rather surprised to be invited to call at the
Sidmouth Festival this year and hopefully I can help rebuild Sidmouth's reputation......
Comments from Joan Crump on an internet forum, 4
......we have taken on board the difficulties with Social Dance in recent years and have
gone very much for a "back to basics" programme that features some of the most
popular bands and callers: Colin Hume, Mike Courtold, Lynne Render, Barrie Bullimore, Bill
& Barbara Kinsman, Momentum, Meg, Molly & Bill, Folkus Pocus and the English
Contra Dance Band. There will also be a new programme of afternoon tea dances in the
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