This year’s National Institute of Allied Arts Festival (NIAA) inspired thousands of school children to enter and be judged on their creativity and skill across artistic genres. From the Vocal and Instrumental Eisteddfod in March, through the Speech and Drama Festival in June, to July and August’s Literary and Visual Arts Festivals, culminating in the prize-giving event last month, the NIAA has fulfilled their mandate in 2015. The Institute’s central objective – to ensure that the arts, their creation and enjoyment, pass from one generation to the next, has once again been well met.
Large numbers of high-quality entries from school children of all ages, plus some adults, poured into all festivals. The best visual arts entries were displayed for a week in Hartmann House’s Jubilee Hall following the Visual Arts and Literary Prize-Giving. These could not fail to impress – by their sheer volume as well as by their imagination, creativity and originality.
Writers and visual artists of all ages tapped into their creative wells back in June and July to produce works with the NIAA Syllabi as their inspirational catalysts. In the Literary Festival, submissions of prose and poetry were invited. In Junior Schools, grades 2 to 7 may submit prose and grades 4 to 7, poetry. Senior school pupils from Form 1 to 6 can submit in both categories and interested adults can enter in the Sixth Form and Open section.
The 2015 Literary Festival inspired a total 2,651 entries from 46 junior and 28 senior schools, reviewed by a team of 32 markers. An impressive 116 were awarded Honours, and another 686 First Class. 2,136 entries were submitted for Visual Arts from 48 junior and 16 senior schools, with 109 awarded Honours and 516 Firsts. Entries were judged in August by adjudicators including artists Wayne Stutchbury, Marlene Bornman, Sarah Bentley and Di Bentley.
The NIAA Literary and Visual Arts prize giving was well supported by parents, teachers, school representatives and others involved in NIAA operations. Young recipients of a range of awards for the top entries proudly came up to receive their certificates, prizes and trophies from the guest of honour Keith Nicholson, past Chairman of NIAA and long-time supporter of the Institute. NIAA Treasurer Alison Garrard and Secretary Kathy Norman were on hand to assist with the event and prize-giving and Acting Chairman Richard Wilde delivered a speech, commending the high number and quality of Festival entries this year. Literary Festival Director Bev Abrahams also spoke, drawing attention to how the Festival’s entrants help us focus on the positive, even in challenging times such as these.
Trophy for Best Senior Artist overall went to Michael Ruck of St John’s College, and Best Junior Artist to a group of young artists from Twin Rivers School calling themselves ‘Bird Brains’ for their excellent group entry. Trophies for Best Junior Writer went to Georgia Halsted of Hellenic Academy, and Best Senior Writer to Rory Tsapayi of St John’s College. Innscor and CBZ Bank sponsor the Visual Arts and Literary Festival respectively.
The NIAA festival year may have ended, but its work, carried out primarily by volunteers, never does. Preparations for the 2016 festivals are already well underway. This hard-working Institute continues its mission year-round to inspire diligent preparation, imagination, practice and quality performances from artists of all ages and abilities, across varied forms of artistic expression.