Growing interest as arts festival expands

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A surge in demand to be part of an annual performing arts festival has resulted in the event becoming bigger than ever.

The Sudbury Festival of Performing Arts will get under way at Ormiston Sudbury Academy next month. It is being staged for the 92nd year.

Due to an increase in entries, the festival’s dance section has been extended by an extra day.

“There has been a large rise in the dance entries and I think that reflects the high standards of the festival,” said Janet Penfold, one of the festival’s long-time organisers.

“It is a particularly strong section in the performing arts and there are more children going to classes.”

The festival is open to all ages and, as well as dance, includes music, speech and drama sections. Events will also be held at the Delphi Centre in Newton Road.

Last year, around 500 competitors from across the region took part. This year, there have been 700 entries.

“It is such a well-run festival and is very friendly – people appreciate that,” said Mrs Penfold.

“We had a meeting last week to iron out some of the final details and everything is in place and we are ready to go.”

The festival was first started in 1922 as the Clare Festival, but moved to Sudbury as it grew.

A wide range of classes are on offer and a number of trophies up for grabs, including the Bernard Johnson Award for an outstanding performer and the Suffolk Free Press Anniversary Cup for most promising competitor.

The dance section of the event will run from February 15 to 19, with the music section and speech and drama entries taking centre stage during the following month.

A grand festival concert celebrating the achievements of all those who took part will be held at Ormiston Sudbury Academy on March 23, when awards will be presented to all section winners.