Chichester Festival for Music, Dance and Speech goes online for 2021

The Chichester Festival for Music, Dance and Speech has taken the bold step to go online next year.

Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 9:00 am
Jenie Pressdee

This year, they managed to complete almost all the festival in February before lockdown took hold of the country. But for 2021, they have taken the view that a return to normal simply isn’t likely to happen in time.

Festival chairman Jenie Pressdee said it was an exciting move – and also a relief: “We were considering not having a festival at all.”

Initially the festival committee were split on the idea of going virtual, but reassurance came from the experiences of other festivals who have already taken the online option: “So I felt quite relieved when we all came down on the same side of the fence about it all. Everybody is really ready to go now and is very excited about what is happening. And the parents are pleased too. And the candidates are pleased to have the chance to perform. Otherwise it would have been two years without it happening.”

The Chichester Festival for Music, Dance and Speech was founded in 1955 to encourage and promote the performing arts for all age groups and especially for the young.

The 2021 virtual festival will kick off on February 1; and with the new format, Jenie and the team have been able to give candidates longer to enter. Rather than the usual November deadline, entries will close on December 31.

Candidates will need to enter and also to submit a video of themselves. Entries can be made before your video is ready, but all videos must be uploaded no later than three weeks prior to the competition date.

The team of adjudicators will then assess the videos and offer reports. The actual festival itself will comprise their live adjudications.

“It will give our many candidates the opportunity to perform once again in our 66th festival – albeit on video – to our professional adjudicators who will judge them as they would normally in our live event. The feedback we have received to date has been extremely positive and we are very much looking forward to this exciting period.

“All details on are our website at which has full details of our adjudicators allocated to all the different sections. Dance is at present way ahead with entries and will have Chris Hocking as adjudicator who is at present chair of the All England Dance Championships and a judge for the Dance World Cup.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a very professional group of adjudicators lined up for 2021 who will add to the prestige of our long-standing festival. If you look at our syllabus online, I am sure you will be impressed!

“Due to Covid-19 we have had to restrict the number of classes to solo performances only in order to comply with distancing regulations and we are unable to run our choir section this year.

“However apart from this one section, people are very keen to participate and be part of our festival once again.

“Having spoken to festivals elsewhere and had positive feedback I am very confident that CMFDS 2021 will prove to be as successful as ever, and I hope Chichester will embrace this opportunity to support and take part in our very special festival once again.”

This year, the festival was lucky with the timing, starting in February and able to run all bar one of its sections – the choirs: “And it went very well. But I am sure things won’t be back to normal next year, and I suspect even our festival concert next year is going to have to be online.”

On the plus side, Jenie is already seeing entries coming in from further afield. And they are certainly welcome: “They will be given exactly the same chance as the other local candidates.” Sections include adult singing, junior singing, brass, guitar, recorders, speech & drama, piano, strings, musical theatre and woodwind.