Children's music and drama festival in Southampton under threat after almost 90 years

Daily Echo: Last years finale concert Last years finale concert

IT’S a city institution which has been introducing youngsters to the stage since 1926.

Southampton Festival of Music and Drama is one of the oldest and most highly respected festivals in the UK.

But as the 2014 event gets under way today, its future is under threat.

Organisers say next year’s event at Thornden Hall in Chandler’s Ford, which is attended by more than 1,000 people, is facing major cuts – or even the axe if more money cannot be found to keep it afloat.

Chairman Shelagh Lee has appealed for businesses and individuals to step in to sponsor part of the charitable event, which is run by volunteers and is completely self-funding.

She said: “We’re making a loss and there’s only so long we can keep on going. It becomes more difficult every time I have to report our situation to the Charities Commission.

“All the costs are going up and we just can’t pass that on and charge any more for entry, even though the level of entries is still||around 1,200 each year.

“It would be such a shame to lose it. There’s such an incredible atmosphere every year and it means a lot to people. One little girl ran over to me at school this week. She’s only seven, but she said: ‘Mrs Lee, I’m just so excited about the weekend’.”

“It’s a safe place for children to start learning to perform and they love having their parents and grandparents along to see them.”

The majority of participants are junior school children, who are first encouraged to take part in the non-competitive chairman’s classes. These are now under threat.

Also facing the axe are the medals given out to each child who competes in a class and the free tabla classes run by Art Asia.

The competition element of the festival continues until Sunday, March 16 and is followed by a spectacular finale concert, including all the winners on Friday, March 21.

Comments (6)

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11:35am Sat 8 Mar 14

mickey01 says...

surely one for the lottery to consider or is it not diverse enough for them
surely one for the lottery to consider or is it not diverse enough for them mickey01
  • Score: 1

12:30pm Sat 8 Mar 14

car driver says...

As a Grandparent of a child at Shelagh Lees school credit must be given to this wonderful talented lady who devotes so much time and care to all the children she teaches as well as a devoted person in her home situation. Surely funding could be supported even though cutbacks are forever on this site to allow these children in all the schools in Southampton to access music one way or another it has been so nice to see the Rock Challenge featured but learning to take part in how ever small all large or even encouraging children to play an instrument is surely a step back to allow these children to learn the life skills that have been lost along the way and to give them back the credit as they move along their learning curve surely is more positive than what some of them are doing now
Well done Shelagh for speaking out and allowing us to participate again this year .Come and visit her school daily echo listen to what her teaching does for the children.
As a Grandparent of a child at Shelagh Lees school credit must be given to this wonderful talented lady who devotes so much time and care to all the children she teaches as well as a devoted person in her home situation. Surely funding could be supported even though cutbacks are forever on this site to allow these children in all the schools in Southampton to access music one way or another it has been so nice to see the Rock Challenge featured but learning to take part in how ever small all large or even encouraging children to play an instrument is surely a step back to allow these children to learn the life skills that have been lost along the way and to give them back the credit as they move along their learning curve surely is more positive than what some of them are doing now Well done Shelagh for speaking out and allowing us to participate again this year .Come and visit her school daily echo listen to what her teaching does for the children. car driver
  • Score: 2

8:35am Sun 9 Mar 14

Mr-La-De-Da-Gunner-Graham says...

Children need to be told the harsh truth, the hard truth being that they will NOT make a living and become fantastically wealthy by aspiring to be 'celebrities' or any other form of 'entertainment' industry marionette.
What DOES need to be emphasised to them in their formative years is that they need to KNUCKLE DOWN at school, study hard, concentrate on academic achievement and then, and only then, might they obtain a half-decent job/career which will enable them to live a normal life.
This idiotic, yankeefied cult of 'celebrity', gangsta 'culture' and trash TV has so much to answer for, and we haven't yet reaped the worst of its harvest.
Children need to be told the harsh truth, the hard truth being that they will NOT make a living and become fantastically wealthy by aspiring to be 'celebrities' or any other form of 'entertainment' industry marionette. What DOES need to be emphasised to them in their formative years is that they need to KNUCKLE DOWN at school, study hard, concentrate on academic achievement and then, and only then, might they obtain a half-decent job/career which will enable them to live a normal life. This idiotic, yankeefied cult of 'celebrity', gangsta 'culture' and trash TV has so much to answer for, and we haven't yet reaped the worst of its harvest. Mr-La-De-Da-Gunner-Graham
  • Score: -1

12:17pm Sun 9 Mar 14

car driver says...

in response to Mr -La-De-Da-Gunner-Gra
ham post you clearly are on another planet who said these children are aspiring to be celebrities these children are enjoying an inspiring path instead of sitting down finger tapping in front of a game console eagerly learning how to steal cars and maim and kill off their opponents surely learning to play an instrument or singing or reciting poetry or being in a drama group and enjoy winning a certificate or a medal far out ways the path that is quite often reported as he or she had a troubled childhood these games are age related but you tell me who follows that when they are transfixed in front of the console ,visit the music festival today or next week and then comment on the children its a fantastic learning curve for their future gaining confidence taking part instead of learning how to kill and maim their opponents I rest my case well done Shelagh Lee long may you support and encourage our children.
in response to Mr -La-De-Da-Gunner-Gra ham post you clearly are on another planet who said these children are aspiring to be celebrities these children are enjoying an inspiring path instead of sitting down finger tapping in front of a game console eagerly learning how to steal cars and maim and kill off their opponents surely learning to play an instrument or singing or reciting poetry or being in a drama group and enjoy winning a certificate or a medal far out ways the path that is quite often reported as he or she had a troubled childhood these games are age related but you tell me who follows that when they are transfixed in front of the console ,visit the music festival today or next week and then comment on the children its a fantastic learning curve for their future gaining confidence taking part instead of learning how to kill and maim their opponents I rest my case well done Shelagh Lee long may you support and encourage our children. car driver
  • Score: 3

6:50pm Sun 9 Mar 14

Mr-La-De-Da-Gunner-Graham says...

car driver wrote:
in response to Mr -La-De-Da-Gunner-Gra

ham post you clearly are on another planet who said these children are aspiring to be celebrities these children are enjoying an inspiring path instead of sitting down finger tapping in front of a game console eagerly learning how to steal cars and maim and kill off their opponents surely learning to play an instrument or singing or reciting poetry or being in a drama group and enjoy winning a certificate or a medal far out ways the path that is quite often reported as he or she had a troubled childhood these games are age related but you tell me who follows that when they are transfixed in front of the console ,visit the music festival today or next week and then comment on the children its a fantastic learning curve for their future gaining confidence taking part instead of learning how to kill and maim their opponents I rest my case well done Shelagh Lee long may you support and encourage our children.
Well, 'Car Driver', your grammatically disasterous response to my post makes my point for me rather admirably.
You're clearly one who learnt very little from your English classes, as can be seen from your lack of grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence construction skills.
As for the utter stupidity of your assertion that GTA5 encourages and teaches people to go out and kill, maim and steal cars, the least said the better, methinks.
[quote][p][bold]car driver[/bold] wrote: in response to Mr -La-De-Da-Gunner-Gra ham post you clearly are on another planet who said these children are aspiring to be celebrities these children are enjoying an inspiring path instead of sitting down finger tapping in front of a game console eagerly learning how to steal cars and maim and kill off their opponents surely learning to play an instrument or singing or reciting poetry or being in a drama group and enjoy winning a certificate or a medal far out ways the path that is quite often reported as he or she had a troubled childhood these games are age related but you tell me who follows that when they are transfixed in front of the console ,visit the music festival today or next week and then comment on the children its a fantastic learning curve for their future gaining confidence taking part instead of learning how to kill and maim their opponents I rest my case well done Shelagh Lee long may you support and encourage our children.[/p][/quote]Well, 'Car Driver', your grammatically disasterous response to my post makes my point for me rather admirably. You're clearly one who learnt very little from your English classes, as can be seen from your lack of grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence construction skills. As for the utter stupidity of your assertion that GTA5 encourages and teaches people to go out and kill, maim and steal cars, the least said the better, methinks. Mr-La-De-Da-Gunner-Graham
  • Score: -1

8:58pm Sun 9 Mar 14

Reality-man says...

Never heard of it
Never heard of it Reality-man
  • Score: 0

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