The English Folk Dance and Song Society has announced that Eliza Carthy MBE has agreed to become its next president, following in the footsteps of Shirley Collins MBE, who held the role between 2008 and 2020.
Describing herself as a “modern English musician”, Eliza Carthy was steeped in the folk traditions of England from an early age and has spearheaded the re-emergence of English traditional music as a vibrant, exciting genre in recent years. She has been the Society’s Vice-President since 2008. Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Katy Spicer, called her a “superbly imaginative ambassador for the folk music of England”.
Eliza herself says: “Since I was a child my family has spoken of the institution of the English Folk Dance and Song Society as the trove of our traditions. My first visit to the house as an adult to research the Carpenter collection on microfiche for my first album was like a pilgrimage, an experience never forgotten. The Society has since worked tirelessly to make the Archive and library available to the wider modern world via their online resources; the treasure is now free to curious minds all over the world. When a laughing Shirley Collins and I put our handprints in cement outside the House in 2008 I didn't imagine that I'd one day be given the honour of President of the Society. The English Folk Dance and Song Society continues to be custodian of the people's shared cultural history whilst looking forward to the future. I'm beyond delighted to accept this position.”
Meanwhile, the Society has recently been in a consultation process with its members in regard to its possible change of name. It believes that the time is right to change the name to something less cumbersome, more inclusive and more understandable in the wider world.
Following over a year of consideration, at present the name Folk Arts England is being tabled. The Society has assured people that it is “not considering a change to the fundamental aims and objectives of the Society. Our remit continues to be to support and develop ‘English folk dances and songs, other folk music, folk talks and folk drama’ (in the words of the Society’s articles) – concentrating on the folk music and folk dance of England.” It also says that the “continuing use of the word FOLK is not up for negotiation!”
Many differing opinions on the subject have been aired, and we look forward to hearing the decisions made in due course.