A Golden Welcome: extract from Festival News 30 July 2004

At this 50th Celebration of the world famous Sidmouth International Festival, I can only wish you all great pleasure. To paraphrase a well-known poet

"and if there come the singers, dancers and flute players note that their art is their gift to you. They too are gatherers of fruits of the earth and that which they bring, though fashioned of dreams is no less the food of your pleasure. Give honestly of your wealth to them and they will dance, sing and play the more and share their pleasure with you, that you shall reap yours".

I think that was probably true of the very first director of Sidmouth Festival in 1955. I know it was the wish of Bill Rutter, who carried it through the '60's and '70's and of John Dowell through the '80's.

Now, as we reach the half century of Festivals and perhaps the end of an era, it's a good time to reflect on what has gone before. To think carefully about the jewel that we hold here in our hands and the gift that we can give to the future.

I believe there will always be a Festival in Sidmouth where people can gather to sing, play, dance and celebrate their cultures together, to improve their understanding of each other, to share their gifts, their experiences, and their pleasures. Whatever the outcome of previous or indeed this years Festival, the celebration of Folk Culture and Tradition is the prime purpose, and whoever can gather in Sidmouth in this First Week of August should always remember that this is our National and indeed International Heritage of Music, Dance and Song and like all lessons of history, should never be forgotten.

I know you am going to enjoy this magnificent celebration put together by the most dedicated team of professional, part-time and volunteer people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. We offer it to you. Now go out there and make it the landmark event that the people of the world will never forget.

Welcome to Sidmouth International Festival.

Steve Heap
Festival Director

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