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President’s Annual Report 2022

Warrnambool Eisteddfod AGM – Monday 14 November, 2022


As we all know Covid disrupted the normal routines of life during most of 2019, 2020 and 2021 so this year saw the resumption of our Eisteddfod after a prolonged break. We began planning with some uncertainty. The first major change was the withdrawal of Calisthenics from our regular program. After that we learned that Scottish Dancing would also cease to be a part of our program. We thank the organisers and teachers of those discipline for all their work over the years and for contributing so much of value to the cultural life of their many students and to the performing arts in Warrnambool and District. All other regular disciplines were made available for registration.

Due to a lack of registrations we missed the magic and drama of the Aria and I extend my personal thanks to Chris Hayes for all the work she put into setting up the Aria program and for her follow-up review work when the Aria was unable to go ahead.

Music and Speech and Drama both staged successful programs and though numbers were significantly down from previous years this did not detract from giving participants authentic contexts to demonstrate new learning and to experience the joy of performance. Feedback from the parents, teachers and the competitors themselves was part of the joy of witnessing many performances. To Paddy McGennisken and Gwenda Turland, and Nicky Baker and Lisa Cavarsan a huge round of applause for all your work and the good will with which you did it!

I was away for much of the Music program (seeing my own family on the professional stage) but have heard many positive reports on the performances and the quality of the performances and adjudication. From all reports the evening session featuring Community Bands and the official opening of the Eisteddfod was a huge success. I know Chris sent a press release and accompanying photos about this event to the Standard however we’re not a sport, so …!!

Speech and Drama (my personal passion) provided many and varied opportunities for students to demonstrate their skills and competencies and the adjudication by local adjudicator, Mr Jeff Keith was a highlight. I’m sure every competitor, teacher, parents and volunteer went away with some excellent new learning. I know I did!!

The Dance Eisteddfod was worthy of its performance on the Lighthouse stage. Elizabeth Field and the other members of the organising triad, Lindy Bellman and Helen Hadden are to be congratulated on offering Dance Competitions the equal of the many dance competitions which are run throughout the metropolitan area and across Victoria each year. While I enjoyed the performances on stage at the Lighthouse, the highlight for me was watching several accomplished young dancers in stage blacks performing their own choreography on the domes at the breakwater. These young people and their parents all commented positively on their Warrnambool Eisteddfod experience.

Debating under the planning and conduct of Rob Coffey and Greg Alison was the final eisteddfod in our program. It is a powerful experience to listen to upper primary and secondary school students stand on stage and conduct themselves in very formal ways in an articulate and informed way. As a teacher of many years, it is one of my regrets that Australian students are often very poor verbal communicators, so it gives me particular pleasure to see our schools and the Eisteddfod offering kids the opportunity to develop their communication and debating skills.

Future planning:

In 2023 we intend to offer the same program as we have done this year. All triads (convening groups) have completed reviewing their particular discipline’s program and have begun planning for next year. At an all- Eisteddfod level we have looked at promoting the Eisteddfod more widely in the Warrnambool area to re-establish the Eisteddfod in the cultural calendar and life of Warrnambool. The celebration of the Eisteddfod through banners hanging around Warrnambool and promotion in Council publications and relevant web sites is part of our planning for 2023. The events coordinator at the W.C.C. has been very helpful in advising us of appropriate strategies.

Of concern to the organizing Committee is the continuation of all current disciplines in our Eisteddfod program. The Eisteddfod is entirely organized and run by volunteers. For those on the Committee this means there are periods of intense planning and implementation, though the part of the year after the staging of the relevant discipline is relatively free of Eisteddfod obligation. Equally all Office Bearers have been in their positions for a number of years. There seems to be general agreement across organisations of all types that regular renewal of personnel in office-bearing positions keeps a committee fresh and productive. With this in mind we have invited interested members of the community and those of you who support the Eisteddfod as teachers and educational leaders to attend this AGM. We are hoping that you will spread the word to people within your sphere of influence that the Eisteddfod committee needs new and interested people to work at the organizational level as well as at day-to-day volunteering during the staging of each discipline.


In summary, the City of Warrnambool Eisteddfod is in a healthy and productive organization. We are in a healthy financial position due to the excellent financial management by Treasurer, Gerard Barker, and the insistence of budget planning by each Discipline triad by the last president Rob Coffey. Knowing there is a strong financial backing allows for creativity in planning by each Triad. We also enjoy the invaluable support of Kay Porter whose IT skills enable the Eisteddfod to operate in contemporary ways. Kay, you are a TREASURE!!


In conclusion I would like to thank our many volunteers who assist in the production of each disciple, the sponsors and philanthropic trusts which enable us to stage the Eisteddfod while keeping costs to performers at a reasonable level and most of all, to the teachers in all our disciplines who prepare their students for Eisteddfod performance and huge THANK YOU!!!


Ann O’Brien


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