Music festival put at risk

Norman Dale fears Pontefract music festival will have to be axed if the committee does not have more entries and sponsors.
Norman Dale fears Pontefract music festival will have to be axed if the committee does not have more entries and sponsors.
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Organisers of Pontefract Music Festival are warning the 2014 event will be the last if more people don’t support it and take part.

Norman Dale, festival committee chairman, said its 110-year history in the town will come to an end without more participants and financial aid.

This year’s festival made a loss and the 2014 event was only saved by a community chest grant from Wakefield Council, which helped it break even, which has enabled next year’s event to take place.

Mr Dale said: “I think it’s very important it continues. It’s there to give youngsters the opportunity to perform in front of people and appreciate other people’s performance.

“It’s also about sportsmanship, dedication and the discipline of learning the words and songs.

“The feedback we get from teachers and parents is that it’s very rewarding and enjoyable.”

The music festival has been a fixture in Pontefract since 1903, and provides a wide range of classes, for children of all ages, as well as adult classes, ranging from choirs, solo singing, instrumental performances, and verse and prose readings.

Participation in the festival has dropped dramatically in the past few years, as the number of schools taking part has fallen, which has affected the festival’s income.

Mr Dale said: “It’s all about exams and results, and as a former headteacher myself, I know how staff are being squeezed for time, but it’s so beneficial.

“It also needs a commitment from parents, because it’s not just the school who listens to children practising.”

The syllabus for the 2014 festival is released on September 30, with the deadline for entries on January 31.

Mr Dale added: “Unless there is a significant increase in entries for the 2014 festival, then next year’s will be the last, which would be very sad.

“To ensure the future of thefestival, we need parents, schools, music groups and interested individuals to commit to taking an active partin the 2014 event.”

“We’ve had terrific support from Hartley and Worstenholme, but we need more local businesses to step in and give us some financial support.”

To find out more about the festival, get a copy of the syllabus or offer sponsorship, contact Liz Quinn, committee secretary at pontfest@hotmail.co.uk or call 01977 620116.