This is our 65th Annual Festival.

None have been made in stranger circumstances.

None have shown more clearly the resilience of young people.

None have made us prouder.

We have 17 new pieces of work. New art, new artists and new communities. Companies of brilliant young people from across the country. Because of the pandemic many of them have never even met. But against the odds they have been creating work together, mentored by our Associates.

It’s been a wild, inspiring ride.

We’re presenting finished shows, readings and works in progress. We’re so excited and proud of what they’ve made. Every one of them fills us with hope.

Just that phrase- “Work in Progress”- tells us that our industry and the creativity it exists to serve will return strong after the plague. That things will begin again. And, we hope, begin again better.

I want to say thank you to every one of our amazing sponsors, partners and supporters, and of course to ACE and the Sunday Times, without which the work of NSDF would be impossible.

But I want to say a special thank you to one person.

Our Executive Director Kim Grant.

Kim is leaving that role after the Festival, although she will not be leaving our NSDF Family of which she is such an integral and vital part.

At NSDF we try to think often of how we can be useful. Kindness without competence is just gestural, competence without kindness is too often a disguised cruelty. Kim Grant has lent this organisation her extraordinary kindness and her unmatched skills and competence for more than two years. Nothing we have achieved with our new NSDF would have been possible without her. She is mighty.

It’s been a tough year, a long winter.

We think new voices are the birdsong that will let us know spring has arrived.

So let’s begin.