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Opera North named as regional partner for The Full English project

Opera North has been named as a regional partner for a national programme to introduce a new audience to folk music, song and dance.

It will take part in The Full English project being led by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

The Heritage Lottery Fund today announced that it had granted EFDSS £585,400 funding to archive, conserve and digitise materials from six archives containing some of the country’s most important folk music collections and allow free public access to 58,400 digitised collection items through a new web portal.

The Full English project will bring together the collections of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Alfred Williams for the first time, to create the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world.

The Full English will also be EFDSS’s biggest learning and participation programme to date, and in each of the nine regions of England will:

  • Work in partnership with education organisations, to increase awareness and knowledge of folk in education by training music educators and teachers, provide educational resources, regional learning events, and creative projects in primary and secondary schools and the wider communit
  •  Partner local cultural organisations to deliver community projects comprising of participatory events and concerts, archive and history project
  • Carry out essential conservation work to the collections, preserving them for generations to come, and training volunteers in archive and conservation work
  • Provide training and volunteering opportunities to up to 223 individuals and involve around 20,000 people in activities, performances and events

Katy Spicer, Chief Executive of EFDSS, said: “The Full English is the single most important development for these collections that together make up a unique reflection of a major aspect of the cultural heritage of England.

“This is a far reaching project that will enable people from across the world to access English folk music, songs and dances via the internet, and the conservation work will preserve the original collections for generations to come.

“Working with regional partners such as Opera North will allow us to deliver a range of community and school courses, introducing folk music to a new audience.”

Dominic Gray, Opera North Projects Director, said: “We are delighted to be working with EFDSS on such an ambitious project. Opera North and EFDSS share a passion for the human voice and the unique way in which music tells stories through song. We look forward to collaborating with EFDSS on The Full English, and reaching as many people as possible across the North.”

The other cultural partnership organisations are: Cecil Sharp House, London, where EFDSS is based; Sound Connections in London; SoundLINCS and Lincoln Drill Hall in Lincolnshire; Cambridge City Council/Cambridge Folk Festival; Folkworks/The Sage Gateshead; The Met in Bury; The Stables in Milton Keynes; Colston Hall/Bristol Music Trust in Bristol; and mac (the Midlands Arts Centre) in Birmingham.

EFDSS will be digitising its collections held within the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) at Cecil Sharp House, and significant folk collections from the archives of project partners: the British Library in London, Clare College in Cambridge, The Mitchell Library in Glasgow, The Folklore Society Library and Archive at University College London, and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

Now funding has been agreed a programme of conservation, digitisation and cataloguing will start. The project is also being supported by the National Folk Music Fund.

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