Words by Matt Taylor
SINCE 1957 the Saddleworth Festival of the Arts has been a firm fixture in the community -but now after 50 years it will all be changing.
From the first festival, a wide range of local and international artists have come to Saddleworth to demonstrate their skills and entertain local audiences.
However, after half a century, the Saddleworth Festival of the Arts Trust has announced that the Festival will be no more in its current form.
They said: “Saddleworth Festival Trustees and the Committee operating the Festival have considered the way forward against the background of a changing environment.
“The Festival has been held every four years and these have been very successful for over 50 years.
“It has supported many local cultural, musical and artistic events. These have been supplemented by bringing in national figures to offer the opportunity to see them perform locally.
“In recent Festivals it has been increasingly difficult to attract national figures at reasonable fees.
“In addition, there are now more societies and others offering concerts, drama and musical entertainment.
“The number of people attending a weeklong Festival has gradually declined.
“In view of these factors it has been decided to replace the Festival with sponsoring individual events in Saddleworth.
“This will enable the Committee to ensure its resources support local events and will probably be able to do this annually.”
The next festival, scheduled for 2019, has now been cancelled and instead the committee will sponsor individual local events rather than hold week-long events every four years.
The Festival has brought many famous names to the area over the years, from former Countryfile presenter and author Julia Bradbury to award-winning BBC reporter George Alagiah.
It has also seen the likes of famous poet Simon Armitage and his writing workshops to the smooth music of the Duke Ellington jazz night.
In 2015 the last event was held, with the talents of singer Ruby Turner and the London Opera Players gracing the stages.
A celebration was also held for the late founder of the festival founder Lord Rhodes, a war veteran who served with the King’s Own Royal Lancashire Regiment during World War 1, to commemorate his services to the community.
Without the help of dedicated volunteers from the area over the years, the Festival would have never been possible, and many people will be sad to see the event leave the area.
Have you got an event you’d like the Saddleworth Festival Trust to support?
Applications will be assessed and a modest amount of sponsorship may be offered. Application forms can be obtained from Colin Smith by calling 01457 873055 or email Colin Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org