Until very recently, Phil Wilson was the managing director of the National Folk Festival in Australia, where he successfully turned the festival from a loss-making event attracting 8,000 people in 1992 into a financially and artistically successful event attended by 42,000 in 1999.
Phil was born in Lancashire and trained as an engineer before emigrating in 1976 to Australia, where he worked as an engineer and later as a state government manager, before his National Folk Festival involvement.
His love of folk music and dance began in England, where he was a member of the Dalesmen folk group and of Darlington Mummers. In Australia, he was a well-known festival performer, singer, instrumentalist and dance caller.
He says, "Folk music has always been an important part of my life, and I feel a sense of pleasure, but also responsibility, in taking on the role of chief executive. I have found that, in a modern world of technology and globalisation, more and more people are searching for their cultural identity. In such a climate, folk culture has probably more relevance than ever before."
Within the National Folk Festival he was involved in programme development, marketing, financial management, fund-raising and the management of a large team of volunteers. The festival is preceded by a three-day school of traditional music and dance workshops, which was initiated by Phil.
He was an adviser to the government on an arts strategy for Canberra, sat on the arts grant funding committee and acted as adviser to several community arts projects, festivals and arts centres. He organised a national conference for festival organisers which led to the formation of Folk Alliance Australia.
Brenda Godrich, chair of the EFDSS National Council, says: "We are very pleased that Phil had arrived back in England at just the right time to take the EFDSS forward."
©2000 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew