The English Folk Dance and Song Society websites use cookies.
You can read more about cookies and how we use them here.
Continued use of this site implies that you agree to our use of cookies.  
At the heart of English folk
National Showcase Conference

John Agard announced as keynote speaker at national folk arts showcase conference

Award winning poet, playwright and short story writer John Agard has been announced as the keynote speaker at the English Folk Dance and Song Society’s (EFDSS) one-day national showcase conference From Archives to Action! Making folk arts relevant in schools and beyond at the Town Hall, Birmingham, on Wednesday 25 June.


John Agard, who has won a host of awards including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, the Smarties Book Award and the Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry, will speak at the conference which will celebrate the culmination of The Full English schools programme.

The other major speaker at the showcase conference is boundary crossing folk musician and EFDSS Vice President, Eliza Carthy. Twice-nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and winner of several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards among many other awards, Carthy is also a committed folk music educator who has recently taken up the role of Folkworks Artistic Associate at Sage Gateshead.

Leading music education consultant, Dr Alison Daubney, who is a teaching fellow and music teacher trainer at the University of Sussex, will facilitate a panel of teachers and artists who have been involved in The Full English learning programme including: Ben Stephenson, head teacher of Marton Primary School in Lincolnshire; dance artist and choreographer Bobak Walker; Ingrid McLean, subject leader for music at Hanham High School in Bristol; and folk musician and educator Hazel Askew.

Representatives from two of The Full English cultural partner organisations, David Agnew, director of The Met, Bury, and Pat Dawson, producer – learning and participation, mac birmingham - will present the highlights of how The Full English programme has contributed to the life of their venues through family, community and adult learning events which have introduced new people to folk arts heritage.
Performance storyteller Debs Newbold, will compare the showcase performances which will feature hundreds of young people from schools across England.


Come along on 25 June

The deadline for early bird tickets, priced £40 per delegate, is Friday 6 June. From 7 June, prices rise to £60 per delegate. Book now and save


The Full English schools programme

This project has reached 19 schools (primary, secondary and SEN) across England, with creative learning projects inspired by an online digital archive of folk art manuscripts. The conference will be an inspirational day of performances, presentations and discussions celebrating high quality folk arts projects in schools and is a must attend event for anyone working in the education, culture or heritage sectors who wants to learn how folk dance, song, music and drama can be used to enhance learning in the school curriculum at key stages 1 to 5 (young people aged 5 - 18 years).

The Full English school programme in a secondary schoolThe Full English school programme in action, in a secondary school


The speakers

John Agard
John AgardHis highly acclaimed The Young Inferno (Frances Lincoln) fires Dante into the 21st Century in a red hot retelling and Bloodaxe publish his poetry for adults including such classics as Listen Mr Oxford Don and The Palm Tree King. His poem Half-Caste, published in 2005, has been featured for several years in the AQA English GCSE anthology.

Alongside poetry, he has written verse plays and librettos for venues including Little Angel Theatre and the Glyndebourne Festival. He has been a writer-in-residence at the BBC, the Southbank Centre and the National Maritime Museum.

Born in Guyana, John moved to the UK in 1977, and currently lives in East Sussex with his partner the poet Grace Nicholls. John tours widely giving performances and talking to schoolchildren studying his poetry for GCSE.

Eliza Carthy
Eliza CarthyEliza became Vice-President of EFDSS in 2008. The daughter of folk musicians Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, Eliza has been performing from a very early age. Describing herself simply as a 'modern English musician' Eliza has revitalised and made folk music relevant to new audiences and has captured the most hardened of dissenters with canny, charismatic and boundary-crossing performance.

With a host of awards and nominations including two nominations for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, Eliza is also the winner of more than five BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and has presented awards for MOJO magazine and been invited to judge at both the Q Awards and the Ivor Novello Awards. In 2003 she became the first English traditional musician to be nominated for a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music.

Eliza is a very busy artist, writing and performing as a solo artist, with her own band, The Imagined Village (original member) and with family. Over the years she has collaborated with a wide variety of artists including Paul Weller, Jools Holland, Joan Baez and Cerys Matthews. She divides her time between touring and recording with her legendary parents Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson (as Waterson, Carthy and the Gift Band) and pioneering solo and band projects, currently focusing on her solo songwriting material and the Imagined Village.


What is The Full English?

The Full English is a ground-breaking digital archive of early 20th century English folk arts manuscripts; a nationwide learning programme of workshops, lectures, creative projects with 18 schools, as well as training and community events in all nine English regions; and a commission to folk artist Fay Hield to write new music and arrangements inspired by the collections that make up the digital archive collections.

A grant of £585,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £11,000 from the National Folk Music Fund, given in memory of former EFDSS President Ursula Vaughan Williams, and support from The Folklore Society and the English Miscellany Folk Dance Group has made it possible for the world to see these riches online and for thousands of people in England to get involved in an array of projects, giving these remarkable materials back to the communities from where they were originally collected.

Find out more about the conference

Check out the conference schedule and speakers

The Full English learning programme

Look at a selection of photos from The Full English school projects

National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


Donate now

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