Equity and inclusion are centre stage with the newest additions to Sydney Catholic Schools’ annual Eisteddfod.

Now in its fourth year, the 2024 event has attracted more than 1,300 registrations across solo and ensemble performance categories in drama, dance, instrumental and vocal.

Students from Eileen O’Connor Catholic College Lewisham, which caters for students with moderate intellectual disabilities, will perform in the secondary choir event for the first time this year.

A gospel choir section and an infant’s dance section for students from Kindergarten to Year 2 are also new to the program.

This addition brings dance performance opportunities to all primary and high school students in the system for the first time this year.

“Students get well-rounded access to the arts that goes far beyond the classroom.” – Danielle Fuller

Parents were also able to register their children alongside school submissions this year, leading to more soloists accessing the competition as part of a well-rounded arts offering. 

Students perform at Sydney Catholic Schools annual Eisteddfod.“There is deep research that shows that arts education and participation in the arts can lead to improved cognitive, social, and behavioural outcomes in early childhood, adolescence and throughout life,” said Sydney Catholic Schools’ Manager: Performing and Visual Arts, Danielle Fuller.

“At Sydney Catholic schools we’ve always had industry practitioners alongside the best educational practitioners, so that students get well-rounded access to the arts that goes far beyond the classroom.”

Growing opportunity

The Eisteddfod has improved year on year to give more students and schools opportunities to access competition, and with it feedback from industry professionals who act as adjudicators across the events.

This year’s adjudicators include James Bryce, who received an OAM for services to music education and performance in 2022, and Opera Australia’s Assistant Chorus Master Michael Curtain and sopranos Clarissa Spata and Jane Eade.

An Eisteddfod student dance performance.Artistic director, choreographer and NIDA tutor Virginia Ferris who has created hundreds of events both nationally and internationally is also among the 26 adjudicators to this years’ Eisteddfod. 

Supervisor: Creative and Performing Arts, Eva Spata, said widespread access to professional feedback was a game-changer for student growth. 

“Our students are hearing feedback in class from their teachers and peers, then they have industry experts at the top of their game nationally and internationally giving them personalised feedback in a very positive way,” she said.

“That experience is second to none.”

About the Eisteddfod

The first Sydney Catholic Schools Eisteddfod was held in 2021 with 92 schools participating in four days of drama, dance, instrumental and vocal competition.

This year, students from 125 schools will take part in solo and ensemble performances across 25 days.

Solo performances begin on 13 April. Ensemble performances will be held across four weeks from May 16.

Students perform at Sydney Catholic Schools annual Eisteddfod.