Felixstowe: Disappointment as historic drama festival abandoned

FELIXSTOWE: Theatre-goers have been left in shock after it emerged the resort’s annual drama festival has been cancelled for the first time in its 60-year history.

Felixstowe Drama Festival has been a stalwart of the resort’s arts calendar since it began in 1950, but the much-loved event has been abandoned after several acts pulled out, citing a change of date and lack of funds as their main reasons.

And the long-term future of the festival could be in jeopardy as, although it is expected to return next year, organisers worry that a clash with the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebration will see audiences miss out on two years of the theatre extravaganza, held at the Spa Pavilion.

Festival director Alan Dix, 63, who has been involved in the committee since 1999, said: “We only had three entries for the festival and normally we would have at least six or seven.

“I think it’s a tragedy because it has all sorts of impacts on people here. If you suddenly lose an audience, to try and pick them up again afterwards is very hard. Even a year later, people have found other things to do with their time.

“I think it’s bound to have an impact on the future of the festival. Other drama festivals around the country are suffering as well.

“The future doesn’t look too bright but all you can do is keep the enthusiasm going.”

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Groups regularly travel from as far as Falkirk and Cardiff to take part in the festival, but Mr Dix said a combination of the change of date – from its usual bank holiday and half term slot at the end of May to the week of May 16 – and a lack of sponsorship from businesses affected by the recession have meant they cannot make the journey.

Spa Pavilion theatre manager Julie Howes said: “We’re disappointed that the drama festival will not be taking place this year. The reason it was cancelled was down to a lack of teams taking part.

“The decision for any movement of dates is not done solely by the Spa Pavilion. Half term is a popular holiday for us to have children’s shows in as well, so obviously if there was a chance of moving it out of half term, then we had to go for it.

“Obviously you have to look at it from a financial point of view – if something is constantly losing money and we have an opportunity to try a show that will bring in more people, we have to try something different to see if it will work.”

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