Board of Trustees

Chair of the Board of Trustees

Deborah (Norris) Ward

Upon graduating from Elmhurst Ballet School, Deborah continued her academic studies, gaining a BA Hons Communication Studies – Dance from the University of Leeds, and an MA in Dance Studies at De Montfort University before receiving a scholarship to pursue her contemporary dance training at the Jose Limón Institute in New York. Debbie is currently a doctoral candidate at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is researching contemporary narrative ballet works through a feminist narratological lens.

As a choreographer Deborah has presented works internationally in both educational and professional settings in Contemporary, Ballet and Musical Theatre genres. She founded Ballet Folk in 2019, for share her creative work which has a narrative focus and is embedded in folk traditions and music from the British Isles. 

As a dance educator Deborah has taught internationally at conservatoires in Taiwan, Slovakia, Lithuania, and America. With a focus on Contemporary Ballet and Limón-based technique and choreographic practices, she has taught across the UK for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and as a lecturer at HE institutions and vocational conservatoires. 

Deborah is a committee member for Dance HE, a Fellow of Higher Education Academy, an All England Dance adjudicator and Vice Chair and adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Festivals.

Joining the Federation as a Dance adjudicator in 2009 Deborah has been constantly inspired by the wealth of artistic talent seen at festivals on an international scale each year. At this uncertain time, Deborah believes more than ever, that arts education, performance and creativity is a vital part of our human existence and that festivals offer a platform for performing artists to develop their artistic self.

Deborah was elected onto the Board of Trustees eight years ago and since then has been privileged to work alongside Steven Roberts and the members of the Board to support the vision and direction of the Federation.

Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees

Priscilla Morris

Priscilla became involved in the festival movement in the early 1970’s when she began entering students from her drama school at the Nuneaton Festival of Arts. She supported this local festival for the next 40 years until her daughter took over the mantle in 2013.

She trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and was a member of the LAMDA examining board for 34 years, which enabled her to travel worldwide. In 2021 Priscilla will reach her 30th year as a Speech and Drama adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Festivals, for whom she has worked throughout the UK and Ireland, Bermuda, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong.

In 1996 her book “Introducing Shakespeare to Young People” was published by Oberon books. She currently has three books of duologues with Methuen and publication is expected in 2022. Alongside her teaching, Priscilla has acted in and directed over 40 plays and pantomimes and since 2013 she has been a guest speaker on P&O Cruises where she lectures on performance in Literature and Theatre.

Priscilla had a change of direction in 2000 when her business voice coaching company Loud & Clear was founded. This introduced her to marketing, networking and social media and she hopes to bring her knowledge of this to the Board of Trustees, which she joined in early 2021.

She has also reconnected with the Nuneaton Festival of Arts and has become a member of the committee for the Speech and Drama section. Priscilla is honoured to be helping an organisation, which has been part of her whole working life, to move forward into its second century.

Honorary Treasurer and Member of the Board of Trustees

John Logan

John’s links to the festival movement began first as a parent, later managing the finances of his wife’s dance school, and subsequently as a member, and Secretary, of his local festival committee; where he gained experience in the organisation and running of festivals.  Since January 2013 he has been a member of the Board of Trustees, and was elected Honorary Treasurer in October 2014.

His background in the finance and banking sector provides a further dimension to the range of skills that exist within the Board of Trustees.  Following early retirement from work he maintains a keen interest in the voluntary sector, and in addition to his work with the Federation he acts as a volunteer advocate for local charities.

Members of the Board of Trustees

Yvonne Baisden

Yvonne has been involved in festivals for many years, initially as a dance mom, then as a volunteer, until eventually five years ago becoming co-organiser, running the Ealing Dance Festival. In 2017 Yvonne took over as Chair of the Ealing Festival of Music, Dance, Speech and Drama. This has given Yvonne a greater insight into the other disciplines within the festival movement, has helped to improve her understanding of each disciplines individual requirements and strengthened her relationship and understanding of the work done by the Federation.

Being first introduced to the Board at the beginning of the year has given Yvonne first hand experience of working directly with the Federations Trustees and staff through challenging and unpredictable times of which we have never experienced before. Yvonne looks forward to continuing her work with the Board and supporting the work of the Federation.

Clara Lane

Having enjoyed playing and touring with choirs and orchestras in her youth at an amateur level, Clara is keen to further an appreciation for the arts to anyone who is willing to give them a go. Participating and having access to the arts is an enriching experience which she is proud to support. Having grown up in Rome, she hopes to add some Italian flair, while her professional background brings additional breadth to the Board of Trustees. Clara has significant experience of financial markets working in investment banking and asset management in London and New York, and more recently in financial regulation. She hopes to bring useful skills, as well as a huge enthusiasm, to the festival movement!

Robert MacDonald

Robert participated in festivals from an early age and subsequently has some 30 years’ experience of festival organisation and development.  He was elected chairman of Glasgow Music Festival in 1991, at a time when that festival was embarking on a period of significant growth and change, and continued in that role until 2008.  Shortly afterwards, he was invited to become Honorary President of Glasgow Music Festival and is currently chair of the Federation’s Scottish Forum. 

Robert is a Chartered Accountant and works for one of the UK’s major energy companies.  In what’s left of his spare time, Robert plays cello and piano, goes to concerts and opera, and enjoys sailing.

Jill Wright

Jill is a retired teacher, working latterly in a secondary school with students with special needs and more particularly those with behavioural problems.  She became involved with the Skipton Musical Festival some twelve or fifteen years ago, having been captivated by the Senior Recital class.  She is not a professional musician, although an experienced singer.  She became Secretary of the Festival in 2012 – mainly because she’s a good organiser!  Attending her Regional Forum and becoming a Regional Representative has been a real pleasure – as has watching young musicians grow and mature.  She enjoys reading and keeping up with five grandchildren.

Annette Brown (International Member)

After dabbling in acting and singing classes, including as an entrant of Sydney Eisteddfod at the age of 15, Annette Brown continues to have a distinguished professional career in the Australian performing arts. 

Annette is passionate about creating opportunities and education pathways for young creative Australians and brings that commitment to the Board of Trustees. Her experience includes roles with Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, Australian Music Examinations Board, Sydney Conservatorium High School, Moorambilla Voices, Australian Youth Orchestra, Music Teachers Association of NSW, Sydney Youth Orchestra, Canberra Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Opera.

Annette is now CEO of the Sydney Eisteddfod, the largest festival in the Southern Hemisphere, presenting over 350 events each year with up to 28,000 young Australians taking part. She is excited to join the Federation with her vision that includes extending international collaboration opportunities, networking, pathways and scholarships for young artists’ career development.

Chris Blurton

Chris was musical from a young age and was inspired to play the piano by his piano-playing grandfather whose own father had studied with Elgar. Chris also enjoys drama and played the title role in Oliver! for his local dramatic society at the age of 10. Some 30 years later he will perform again as Mr Sowerberry, with his 8-year-old daughter being part of the workhouse gang.

Chris gained a BSc Hons in Psychology from the University of Plymouth before training as a primary teacher at the University of Exeter. As a teacher Chris has taught both at home and internationally in the Middle East and in USA. His background in psychology has led him into an interest in how the arts can be used for therapy and the psychology of performance.

Chris first became involved with the festival movement playing the piano at the Torbay festival at the age of 5. Some years later he returned with his own pupils and quickly joined the organising committee. Chris is now Vice-Chair of the executive committee of the festival, and this has given him an appreciation of all the disciplines within the festival movement. In the summer of 2023 Chris set up a music school with his sister. The school aims to encourage the next generation of instrument and singing teachers to spread the love of music and performing.