Published: February 16, 2009
Highbridge Festival Of The Arts finale axed due to donations shortfall

A decline in donations has forced organisers of this year's Highbridge Festival of the Arts to cancel their grand finale show.

The popular festival, which is now in its 62nd year, costs almost £7,000 to run and organisers say not enough cash has been collected this year to allow the usual grand finale performance to be held.

The festival will feature talented youngsters from the age of three at The Princess in Burnham-On-Sea from March 4th to 14th - but without the final show.

Festival chairman Anne Bannister told "We have only just been keeping our head above the parapet and need to be very careful with our expenses."

"Donations have been falling, and the council grant funding has also declined in recent years. The cost of hiring the grand piano and the Princess is an absolute fortune, so we had a difficult decision to make."

"I'm very sad the finale has had to go - it was a hard decision and very disappointing but we want to preserve the overall festival."

Entries this year total almost 1,600, which is a slight increase on last year, with dance again proving the most popular section.

The dance section runs from March 4th to 8th; speech and drama on March 9th and 10th; vocals on March 11th and 12th; and instrumentals on March 13th and 14th.

Festival tickets will cost £1 per session or £5 for the whole festival and a souvenir programme will be available at £1.50 on the door.

The show began in 1948 to get people interested in the arts after the Second World War. The first Highbridge Festival Of The Arts was held over a half day in May 1948 and included classes covering vocal, instrumental and country dancing. The event quickly became so popular that classes for adult singing, choirs and instrumentals were added. And by 1977 the festival had been extended to three weeks with entries spanning a huge 1,200 classes.

After 35 years in Highbridge, the event moved to Burnham-On-Sea when Highbridge's Town Hall was deemed unsafe. Since 1984, the event has been held in The Princess Hall. Several notable names from the world of entertainment have begun their careers at the festival, including Stephen Daldry and Rupert Graves.

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