The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is a vibrant, multi-faceted arts organisation, working locally, nationally and internationally. Our work broadly covers three areas of activity – learning and participation, performance and artists’ development, and advocacy.
Learning and participation is huge! It encompasses all the activities of our Education Department, working with schools, colleges, young people, adults, children, families, teachers, animateurs, and resources. Visit the Education section on the website; you’ll be exhausted just reading it!
And then there is the jewel that is the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Bursting (literally) out of Cecil Sharp House with the quantity of materials contained in this multi-media, award-winning library, VWML is rapidly putting its precious cargo on to a searchable website. Its treasures are an invaluable source of inspiration not just for folk artists, researchers, historians and enthusiasts but for artists from across the arts genres – theatre, visual art, rock and pop, film – the VWML visitors book like a who’s who of the arts world.
The performance and artists’ development programme were re-introduced to EFDSS in 2009 by current Chief Executive, Katy Spicer. “Why have an arts centre if we’re not producing art in it” she cried. We aim to bring a diverse range of folk artists to perform at Cecil Sharp House and increasingly around England with venue, festival and promoter partners. Through creative bursaries and residencies, training projects and mentoring, and international showcases and creative opportunities we support the development of artists.
And through everything we do we try to advocate for the folk arts, to show people that it’s an extraordinarily rich and inspiring seam of culture, tradition and history, in which there is something for everyone. We are a membership organisation, our work being supported by some 3000 individuals and 800 organisations. Our members are our and the folk arts greatest advocates as they are the dancers and dance callers, musicians and singers, teachers, researchers, organisers and audiences, the people that keep these art forms alive and growing.
Unlocking hidden treasure of England’s cultural heritage. The Full English is the world’s largest free digital archive English folk songs, tunes, dances and customs. Containing more than 58,400 items from 12 of the country’s most important early 20th century folk music collections, you can delve into wherever you are in the world.