The Festival movement was established in the 1870s at a time of major educational development and by 1904 no fewer than 60 festivals had been formed. A Federation of Festivals was established in 1920, which has since developed into the British and International Federation of Festivals with over 300 affiliations in the UK alone.
In November 1966 it was decided in that a Competitive Music and Arts Festival should be held in East Grinstead. The inaugural Festival took place in June and July 1968 and incorporated Piano, Choral, Instrumental, Drama and Dancing. For many years different local schools around the town were used to house the festival’s various sections. A Festival Concert was also held each year, latterly at the Bush Davies School’s Adeline Genée Theatre in East Grinstead until its closure in 1989.
We were thrilled when Chequer Mead opened in 1997. Situated near the town centre it has a purpose-built 320-seat theatre plus a range of multi-purpose spaces and a coffee shop serving all-day breakfast and lunch as well as lighter options.
Dance continues at Chequer Mead but we now use nearby Brambletye School for Singing and for Speech & Drama.
The British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech has made a short film celebrating the festival movement and the impact that its members have in supporting the performing arts in their local communities. Read about the background to this project and view the resulting BIFF Signature Film HERE.