To quote from John Hudson’s book Mops and Maestros, which was written to celebrate the Arts Festival’s 21st anniversary, “There’s an old cliché about a camel being a horse designed by a committee".
But Thornbury Arts Festival has become an important part of Thornbury’s annual calendar and has been organised over the years by a committee of volunteers which has seen numbers fall from 30+ in the early days to the present day when just 10 people are responsible for organising this very important 50th anniversary year in 2019.
From the first year of Thornbury Arts Festival in 1969 until 1973 most events were held either in the Castle School, Thorn Hall (part of the Sheiling School), in a church or the Cossham Hall.
Until, in 1973, thanks to a legacy from Frank Armstrong, the Armstrong Hall was opened and, together with the Cossham Hall, that is now where most of the present day events are held
During the past 50 years, as well as organising a vibrant 10 day Festival the Arts Festival Committee has been responsible for introducing Mumping Night and the Mop Fair to Thornbury but, sadly, due to lack of committee members, both these events no longer happen.
One very popular event which has thrived is the annual Thornbury Eisteddfod which was introduced in 1989 and classes were held over two days in the Castle School and Manorbrook Primary School.
In 2001 a “Speech and Drama” section was introduced into the Eisteddfod and TAF became affiliated to the British & International Federation of Festivals. The Speech and Drama classes have proved to be a popular addition to the Instrumental and Vocal classes.
Today Thornbury Arts Festival Trust is proud to include the Eisteddfod and the Severn Vale Art Trail ‘under its umbrella’ .
A few of the Festival Committee remember days when we had no contingency funds to fall back on and we had to organise a jumble sale to be able to pay for the following year!
Nowadays, the finances are much improved but we still need to sell tickets so have a look at our exciting programme for 2019 and put dates in your diary for 26 April to 4 May 2019 and help support this very important part of Thornbury life.
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