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At the heart of English folk

English Folk Dance and Song Society welcomes Arts Council England grant towards restoration of Kennedy Hall

We are delighted that Arts Council England has given EFDSS a significant grant towards a major restoration project at our national centre for the folk arts, Cecil Sharp House in London.

The £197,125 award will help restore Kennedy Hall – the main dance and concert venue at our Grade II listed property between Camden and Primrose Hill - to its former glory.

Kennedy Hall

The overall work is estimated at around £400,000 and we have launched our Shape the Future campaign to raise the remaining £200,000.

 EFDSS Chief Executive Katy Spicer said:

“We are delighted to have received this grant from Arts Council England. It is real boost to our fundraising efforts and an endorsement of the importance of Cecil Sharp House as England’s leading folk arts centre.”  

“We still have a substantial sum to raise to enable us to restore Kennedy Hall to its former glory full of character and sophistication, and safeguard this iconic venue for future generations.”

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, for Arts Council England, said:

“We are really pleased to support the English Folk Dance and Song Society as it seeks to refurbish and restore Kennedy Hall.

“The Grade II listed venue has a fantastic heritage and continues to be an important resource for the folk community. It not only provides a wonderful setting for artists to perform in, from orchestras to music gigs, the versatile space is also an important resource for the local community, hosting a wide range of events.”

About Kennedy Hall

Over the years, Kennedy Hall has played host to some of the biggest names in folk and popular music including Martin & Eliza Carthy, Davy Graham, Shirley Collins, Maddy Prior, Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman and Kate Rusby. It has also hosted hundreds of dances, family events, classes, courses, conferences, lectures, exhibitions and more recently weddings.

Through using and sharing this space (often and generously), as well as hiring it to others, we are struggling to keep Kennedy Hall fit for purpose to host these events.

We have a duty to preserve, improve upon and make safe the vital assets of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) in Kennedy Hall for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.

This is what’s needed to restore Kennedy Hall to its 1950s glory:

Conserve and repair the Ivon Hitchens mural: the paint is flaking, the surface needs to be cleaned and past re-touchings have discoloured.

Improve and reglaze the windows: single-glazed windows are cracked in places, letting in pollution and dirt.

New air filtration system: the current air system does not remove dust and dirt.

Replace the curtains: the current curtains are stained, disintegrating, do not close properly and offer no sound absorption or insulation and limited fire protection.

Refurbish fabric wall panels: these are stained and discoloured.

Restore the wood panelling: existing polish needs to be stripped out, the panels re-waxed and resealed.

Restore the applique cushions: re-stuff, remove stains and repair frayed edges and holes. 

Replace semi-sprung floor: following years of sanding and varnishing, the floor is now very thin.

Install infrared hearing loop: these are needed in all our rooms in order to cater for those who are hard of hearing.

Ceiling: this needs to be repainted.

To support the Shape the Future campaign:

By post: Download a Shape the Future donation form and return to EFDSS

Online: You can make a donation via

Text: To donate £5 by mobile*, text STFC14 £5 to 70070. (If you would like to donate a different amount, simply change that part of the text message. For example, for £3 text STFC14 £3, or for £10 STFC14 £10.)

Phone: Contact EFDSS on 020 7485 2206 and make a donation over the telephone.

Please consider making a gift to our campaign and help us reach our goal to safeguard this iconic venue for future generations

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National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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There's never been a better time to donate to EFDSS - between now and 2019 your donation will be matched by Arts Council England!