Just prior to this year’s Sidmouth FolkWeek the death was announced of Eileen Phelan at the age of 90, who was the founder of the FolkWeek. Eileen got the festival off the ground when she was working for the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) as one of its regional officers.
In 1954 EFDSS decided to look for another location to hold a festival, having founded and run the Stratford-upon-Avon Folk Festival since 1946, and Eileen suggested Sidmouth. She undertook the negotiations with the local council and other parties and in 1955 the first Sidmouth festival took place and continued to be an EFDSS festival until 1986. Eileen died on Saturday 6 July 2013. Read Eileen's obituary in the Sidmouth Herald
Over the last five years EFDSS has developed links again with the festival. In 2009 we sponsored the talks programme at the Arts Centre and the following year presented a Folk Rising stage. Although not directly sponsoring or programming a strand of activity this year, EFDSS has involvement through a number of artists and activities.
The Full English learning programme team, Frances Watt and Gavin Davenport, gave a talk and demonstration on the project and its new online digital archive, in addition to performing and teaching in their own right during the week. Performance productions Under Her Skin, Step Hop House and The Furness have all received support for creation from EFDSS; and young artists James Findlay and Rosie Hood who performed at the Ham Marquee (supporting Gavin and his band) were introduced through the EFDSS Aspire Programme for new and emerging artists.
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