Joondalup Eisteddfod cancelled due to drop in participation


The final curtain has fallen on the Joondalup Eisteddfod, which started as the Wanneroo Eisteddfod in 1988. Picture: Stock image
The final curtain has fallen on the Joondalup Eisteddfod, which started as the Wanneroo Eisteddfod in 1988. Picture: Stock image

A FALL in participation numbers has prompted Joondalup council to stop holding the 30-year-old Joondalup Eisteddfod.

The council unanimously agreed last month to discontinue the annual performing arts competition, first held in 1988, due to a fall in participation numbers in recent years.

The competition – formerly known as the Wanneroo Eisteddfod – provided live performance opportunities and industry feedback for emerging talent within the disciplines of voice, pianoforte, instrumental, strings and woodwind.

According to the December council report, the first event attracted about 200 entries and continued to grow to more than 1200 entries by 2008.

It said participation rates had dropped every year since 2010 and local entries had also decreased significantly with 104 Joondalup residents among the 2017 competition’s 367 entrants.

Since 2011, 50 per cent of Eisteddfod competition categories featured less than three registered participants and half of the 80 competition categories last year had fewer than three competitors.

Mayor Albert Jacob said while it was sad to see the Eisteddfod go, the performing arts scene in the region had changed significantly over the past three decades and the Eisteddfod format no longer engaged the local community.

“The objectives of the Joondalup Eisteddfod first undertaken in 1988 remain relevant,” he said.

“However, there are now many more contemporary arts competitions throughout WA where local performers can showcase their skills.

“Performers now have a number of options available locally to develop their talents.

“The region is also home to several performing arts schools as well as Edith Cowan University and North Metropolitan Tafe that both offer courses within the disciplines of arts and culture.”

Mr Jacob acknowledged the efforts of Joondalup Eisteddfod committee members including Alison Major and Christopher Latham for their contribution to the Joondalup Eisteddfod over its lifespan.

In recent years the City undertook several initiatives to generate more community interest such as venue changes, increased marketing and prize money, a change of syllabus and change to the time of the year that the Eisteddfod was held.

The most significant change was made in 2013 with the introduction of $8900 in prize money, which did stabilise the participation levels at the time but participation continued to decline in subsequent years.

The council report said the Eisteddfod had an annual budget allocation of almost $50,000, as well as staff administration costs of about $13,000.

“An obstacle to the delivery of the Eisteddfod is that the City does not currently have a suitable facility to hold the event and this limits the impact and proficiency for both the audience and the performer,” the report said.

“Survey feedback in 2017 indicated that one in three people were dissatisfied with the venue.”

The City held it in the Joondalup Civic Chamber in 2017, and previous venues included the Craigie Leisure Centre, ECU and Sacred Heart College’s performing arts facility.

It said the City was also the only local government to coordinate an Eisteddfod in WA with the cities of Bayswater, Bunbury and Fremantle sponsoring similar events co-ordinated by an external committee of volunteers.

“The City of Bunbury sponsors the largest Eisteddfod in WA, coordinated by a committee of 10 volunteer members with an annual turnover of $170,000 and around 6000 participants,” it said.