Letter to Tessa Jowell distributed at dance marquees - written by a festival attendee from Cambridge, this was suggested as a template for individual letters. A petition was also organised.

Rt. Hon Tessa Jowell
Secretary of State
Dept of Culture Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH

Dear Ms Jowell

Sidmouth International Festival

At a time when tolerance within a multi-cultural Britain is high on the social and political agenda, it should be brought to the government's attention that Sidmouth International Festival has been quietly celebrating and embracing international cultural diversity, and cultural diversity within the British Isles, for many years. It is a very large festival and yet, being a folk festival, is typically hardly known popularly.

The festival is currently under commercial threat and will cease in its present form, this being its 50th year and probably its last. I' has been unique in inspiring a thriving youth culture through its workshops and future young people will no longer have this exciting annual opportunity.

As well as its international work, it is the flagship for English culture in its many forms, of which the majority of English people are in blissful ignorance. Unlike Scotland, Ireland, France and many other European countries, where traditional culture is actively supported and promoted, English music and dance traditions we ridiculed by the media and mostly ignored by~educational establishments. Dance is recently being promoted in schools as part of a 'getting children fitter' campaign, but nowhere have we heard reference to children being taught dance traditions from their own regions as part of this. A golden opportunity is being missed.

Sidmouth International Festival is a precious national treasure which will be lost due to this ignorance.

I urge you to consider providing the simple promissory underwriting against bad weather which is required to maintain this unique festival. This small commitment would enable English traditions to receive the national recognition which is long overdue, and allow the excellent job of international cultural relations, which the festival provides, to continue.

Yours sincerely

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