16th March, 2021 COVID BRINGS DOWN THE CURTAIN ON LEIGH FESTIVAL Following the cancellation of both the 2020 and 2021 events due to Covid restrictions, it has sadly been decided that the Leigh Festival of Music and Drama, which has been an annual highlight of the town’s performing arts scene for since the 1930s, is finally to come to an end. Launched in 1931 with the aim of promoting popular interest and involvement in the performing arts, the festival was one of the oldest established and most highly regarded competitive events of its kind in Essex. Open to all ages and abilities, it offered young musicians and actors the chance to perform, not just in public, but also in front of highly knowledgeable adjudicators who were always ready to offer expert advice and guidance. Among the thousands of keen young competitors to take part over the years was the brilliant young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, now in huge demand all over the world. “Obviously, the decision to call it a day after so many years is desperately sad,” says the Festival’s current Chairman, Drusilla Redman. “But even before the virus struck, changing public leisure patterns, allied to increasing difficulties in securing the services of sufficient numbers of dedicated volunteers, had already put its long- term future in doubt. Covid has really been the last straw, and as a result, the organising committee really had no choice but to call it a day, which it did unanimously.” Ross Norman-Clarke, publicity

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The Festival takes place annually at Highlands Methodist Church, Sutherland Boulevard, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex SS9 3PT and Leigh Road Baptist Church, Marguerite Drive, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 1NN