The Coffs Eisteddfod is in its 46th year and is one of the longest running cultural events in our area. We spoke to Vanessa Crossley about what’s involved in making the event come to life each year and why it’s such a special event for our youth to be a part of …
Hi Vanessa. Tell us a little about your relationship to the Coffs Coast.
I grew up in Woolgoolga, moving there as a two year old and completing my schooling at Woolgoolga Primary and High Schools. I then spent five years in Brisbane completing my nursing training, but moved back here in 1993 and have been here ever since. Our local area is a perfect place to raise children – great schools, great climate and close enough to Sydney and Brisbane to still be able to have a weekend away.
How many children attend the Eisteddfod, and where do they travel from?
Taking into account several large group events, school choirs, high school drama and dance groups, at least two thousand children will attend the event. School Choirs Day had over 700 children present last year, and this year has grown in size and will be run over two days. The Dance Groups weekend, including school dance groups, has hundreds of dancers attending over the June long weekend. Entrants come from not only the local performance studios, but from the Gold Coast, Port Macquarie, Taree, Grafton, Lismore and Kempsey, to name a few.
Who are some of the professionals you have coming to the 2018 Eisteddfod?
Each year we source adjudicators who are experts in their field, to provide the entrants with constructive and nurturing advice and to judge the winners of each section. This year we have the following adjudicators attending:
MARYAN PASS – Dance Adjudicator
Maryan Pass trained in Sydney and in the United States; she trained in all genres of dance, studying EDTA, RAD and Cecchetti.
CLAIRE HAYWOOD – Dance Adjudicator
Born into a dance and theatre family, Claire has been involved in the live entertainment industry her whole life. She has trained in various styles of dance, including Classical, Contemporary, Tap, Jazz, Commercial, Hip Hop, Acrobatics and Cheerleading.
DR KERRY VANN – Piano Adjudicator
Kerry Vann is a versatile musician who maintains a busy schedule teaching piano, singing, percussion and theory. She is an examiner in music and regularly travels throughout Australia and Asia examining and adjudicating.
ANNE WHALE – Vocal and Drama Adjudicator
Anne Whale is an experienced and dedicated teacher who lives and teaches in the Hunter Valley, where she runs a private studio specialising in piano and singing.
She is proficient in assessment of performances of a wide range of instruments, including voice, piano, violin, cello, guitar and piano accordion. She has also taught the Speech and Drama Syllabus for Trinity College, London, and has conducted school and community choirs.
MERRYL LLOYD – School Drama Adjudicator
Merryl has an Associate and Licentiate Diploma through Australian Guild of Music and Speech and is an accredited Examiner for the IMEB and is also a member of the board. She has also an honorary Fellowship through the IMEB for her contribution to Speech and Drama through her career as a teacher.
CHARLOTTE HAYES – Instrumental Adjudicator
Charlotte completed her musical training with two degrees in Musical Performance by the age of twenty. Her professional career, as a Cellist, commenced with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
What is the preparation like in the lead up to the Eisteddfod?
Preparation starts off slowly around September, when we start to plan the initial parts such as booking venues, setting dates for the next Eisteddfod and locking in our adjudicators. By January we have our schedules in place, which are then available via the STARDOM website for entrants to place their entries.
Entries close by late March, when the real rush begins to format the program and send it out to entrants and start the lead in to the actual event. The weeks leading up to the event are pretty crazy, with a lot of enquiries from competitors, teachers and accompanists and all the last minute jobs such as setting up the venue, having pianos tuned, programs printed and volunteers in place for all the jobs on the day.
Why do you think it so important to keep the Eisteddfod going?
It is important to keep the event running, as it is the longest running cultural event in Coffs Harbour and it is a great opportunity for entrants to perform in a safe, nurturing and friendly environment. It promotes confidence and lifelong friendships. It also brings a lot of visitors to Coffs Harbour over a four week period.
Why is the Coffs Coast such an attractive location for this event?
Aside from all the great things about Coffs Harbour, our location is a selling point, as we are between major centres such as Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane, so it is central location for competitors who may not want to travel to a large city Eisteddfod. We are also in our 46th year, so have an established reputation for being a high quality event.
Where can we find out some more information about the event?
Visit our website for information regarding the Eisteddfod and if you would like to be a volunteer: coffseisteddfod.org.au
The Eisteddfod is open to the public if anyone would like to come and watch.