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by Pete Heywood
Living Tradition Summer Schools
“For my own part I have been to many summer schools and festivals but have never come away
so fulfilled and uplifted by the totality of experience that this event provided.
I speak deliberately about the totality of the experience because the whole turned out to be
exponentially greater than the sum of its considerable parts. The boundaries between the tutorials,
the late night sessions, the seminars, the presentations, the concerts, the slow jams, the walk, the
pub session and the off-site events are all blurred. I can only guess that this was a result of there
being a deliberate attempt to remove barriers and boundaries. Two days in, it would have been difficult
for a stranger to have spotted the difference between tutors and tutored outside the formal situation.”
T
he words above were
written by Willie Slavin
about the Common Ground
summer school in 2003. Six
years on, and Willie has become
one of the key members of the
management team and the one
week of summer school has
developed for 2009 into five
weeks of activity – each with its
own distinct focus, but united
by common values and an
expanding team of tutors.
Pete Heywood talks about the
origins of the summer schools and
plans for the future.
“The ideas came from America,
experience from UK festivals from
Inverness to Girvan via Sidmouth
and a host of folk clubs. Expertise
came from artists and organisers
with track records going back to
the youthful days of the folk revival
in the 60s and 70s. The end
result is Living Tradition Summer
Schools.”
“Although the inspiration and
many of the ideas for the Summer
Schools came from America they
were adapted for this country.
There are subtle differences in
American events, differences
which are not immediately obvious
until you experience them first
hand.”
“Before I organised summer
schools my main organisational
experience had been with the
Girvan Folk Festival. Prior to
being part of the team that ran
that festival, my wife Heather and I
had attended festivals throughout
England and Scotland. I would
The Living Tradition - Page 32
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