In reply to Jack Campin's query on the CSH mural- a bit of history is on the Tate Gallery website - http://tinyurl.com/2vrd66d
On Hitchins himself -
As a good few of you will know, I am currently an EFDSS Board member and, as such, please note that the following are my own personal views and opinions.
In reply to the Good Soldier..
I would contend that the single greatest advantage gained by both song and dance from the joining together of the Song and Dance Societies is the national folk arts archive held by the EFDSS in Cecil Sharp House in the shape of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
Without the existence of this archive - which I believe is of national importance - the histories of both the British folk song and dance revivals would have been very different indeed ...
So, to answer the Good Soldier's question directly..
The advantage to traditional English Folk Song from the amalgamation of the two societies is that folk singers and musicians have an archive - the Vaughan William Memorial Library - where they can research that tradition and find inspiration - for example, there's a real thrill in reading Cecil Sharp's original diaries and in looking at his original song transcriptions.
The disadvantage is that the existence of that very archive depends on the financial health of a small and otherwise unimportant charity.... the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
As a Scot I am staggered by the fact that the most important traditional folk arts archive in England (the VWML) is supported by a small society whose support of that archive is funded in its entirety from the Society's membership income, the income from the hire of its headquarters building and donations and grants from private trusts.
My folk background is in song, music and dance and, as many of the current Board have similarly diverse folk backgrounds, this means that, in my opinion, the current EFDSS Board is pretty well-balanced with no one area of the folk arts predominating - which hasn't always been the case in the past.
Whatever one may think of EFDSS's historical past (and I've got plenty of my own views), the fact remains that, over the years of its existence, the Society has maintained and grown the VWML archive on behalf of the English nation. For that very fact alone, everyone interested in English traditional folk music, song, dance or any other of the English folk arts should be supporting EFDSS - either by donation or by becoming members - or preferably both.
If the EFDSS were to disappear, the entire VWML archive might well either leave these shores, disappear into storage or become a collection in a University library. The thought of that happening and of English singers, dancers and musicians losing daily public access to the VWML archive - anyone can just go up to the front door of the VWML and walk in - is one of the major reasons that I got involved so deeply in EFDSS.
EFDSS today is a very different organisation from that which it was 5, 10, 15, 20 or even 50 years ago. The past is just that - the past, and it is high time that everyone who cares about English traditional folk arts stopped moaning about EFDSS's past and got involved in shaping its future, whether by joining the Society or donating to it.
EFDSS members are incredibly important to the future of EFDSS and the VWML. If an arts organisation has to rely entirely on funding from the public purse or private trusts then, unless that organisation is incredibly lucky, the time inevitably comes when that funding dries up and the organisation is forced to fold. Its membership is what has enabled EFDSS to survive and, in order for EFDSS to move forward and to do what needs to be done, that membership needs to grow.
EFDSS hasn't got everything right yet - it takes time for things to happen - but it is moving well along the way to becoming the folk arts organisation that it can and should be. Of course it will make mistakes and upset some people along the way - such is the nature of life - but the most important thing is that EFDSS is on the move.
To succeed, EFDSS needs and (I believe) deserves not only the financial support, but also the involvement of everyone who professes to care about the traditional folk arts of England.
Sorry for going on a bit but, like my fellow EFDSS Board members (and here I feel that I can speak for them), I am passionate about the importance of the existence of the VWML and the work of the EFDSS, both to those who watch and/or personally participate in the English folk arts and to the nation as a whole.