The Manawatu Competition Society was Incorporated on 31 May 1922. The First festival as an Incorporated Society was held in the school holidays May 1923. All sections of the competitions were held at the same time, i.e. Piano, Instrumental, Vocal, Dance, Highland and Speech & Drama. Some of the names have changed over the years e.g. Speech & Drama was “Elocution” in the early years.
Throughout the early years 1920s – 1950s the Society predominantly used the Opera House, Municipal Hall, and St Andrews Hall. From 1956 – until the early 1980s the Society continued to use the Opera House, Concert Chamber and St Andrews Hall. In 1982 the Globe Theatre opened and the Society moved to this more intimate theatre for the Dance section. All sections continued to be held in the May school holidays until 1994 when t became logistically impossible to hold all sections at the same time and the competitions were spread throughout the year.
Looking back through the archives revealed that In the early years Executive committee were a dedicated group of people and the position of President was held by J A Nash M.P. from 1922-1952. It was also revealed that the majority of committee members were men. That programmes were one shilling and the cost of admission to watch was adults one shilling and children sixpence. “The Good Old Days”
In 1922 the Mayor of Palmerston North was the Patron of the Society and this tradition has continued to present day.
In 1993 the Society changed its name to include the words “Performing Arts” which reflects exactly what the Society offers.
Festivals are currently held throughout the year March – July and are generally held in the school holidays and Queens Birthday weekend. Venues currently used are Globe Theatre, Freyberg High School music suite, Awatapu College Auditorium and Palmerston North Girls High School. With the recent closing of the Globe Theatre the Dance section is currently being held at the Speirs Centre.
All Sections now offer a much broader spectrum of classes to enter e.g. Dance offers – Ballet, Tap, Modern Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical and Hip Hop
Benefits for Young Performers
The competitions provide a platform for those interested in performing on the stage and offers this opportunity in Ballet, Tap & Modern dancing, Vocal, Instrumental, Pianoforte, Speech & Drama and Highland National Dancing.
The Society is a member of a National body – PACANZ (Performing Arts Competition Assoication NZ). PACANZ hold Young Performer Award competitions on a national level for competitors 14 years plus. Each year the event is held over four art forms and the alternate year encompasses the other four. Member Societies hold Nominee classes in the various art forms and adjudicators are asked to nominate up to two competitors to go forward to the national event held in October each year.
The PACANZ Young Performer Awards will be held in Palmerston North in 2018. This is very exciting.