When many small eisteddfods outside capital cities are closing down, the Murwillumbah Festival of Performing Arts is growing and festival president Heather Martin believes it has a lot to do with the wonderful committee and volunteers who give tirelessly to this annual event, which is celebrating its 83rd year of actual performances.
The Murwillumbah Festival of Performing Arts began in 1923 as the Murwillumbah Music Festival, and it is now in its 91st year (the festival did not run in the war years).
From its very small beginnings as exclusively a music event, the festival gradually expanded to include speech and drama as well as dance. Originally the festival ran for about three days – these days it runs for four weeks.
Heather has been involved with the festival for about 40 years, and for last three she has been president.
She says the highlight of the festival for her is actually off rather than on stage.
‘We have a wonderful committee’, says Heather. ‘We have great sub-committees who look after each of the disciplines, and everybody does their bit. They are very active committees and we have good convenors and it all happens. ‘
Heather says that the region is lucky to have such an event.
‘We are really lucky to have such a strong group of volunteers’, she says. ‘Even a couple of adjudicators over the past few years have told us that regional eisteddfods are are closing and they say the reason is the lack of volunteers. But we are not. We are growing.’
In fact, one reason the numbers are growing at the festival could be the decline in eisteddfods in other areas. In 2014 the entries for choirs and vocalists are up. ‘I think another advantage we have is that we are close to the Gold Coast and close to Brisbane. People will come to perform for the experience .’
This year’s speech and drama and music sections are completed, and the dance program is about half way through. However, there is still plenty more action for audiences to enjoy.
The cream of the MFoPA will perform in a showcase on Tuesday August 5 at the Muwillumbah Civic and Cultural Centre Auditorium, Tumbulgum Road, Murwillumbah. This year the concert night will be sponsored by the Murwillumbah Rotary Club. The event is a fabulous evening of extraordinary entertainment by the best young performers the area has to offer.
For more information about the festival, visit the website: www.murbahfestival.com.au.
~ Photos of the senior dance troupes in the Jazz and Hip-Hop sections by Eve Jeffery