The Brighton Competitive Musical Festival (BCMF) was founded in 1924 by Alderman Milner Black, the then Mayor of Brighton. He had heard about the festivals that were being established in other towns, and tired of the criticism that "Brighton was a cultural wilderness", he turned to the well-known singing teacher Maud Hornsby for help and the Festival was born.
The first 'Secretary' was Edwin Stevens, a council employee, and he set up the office in Royal York Building on the Old Steine. In need of advice, he asked his violin teacher, Lewis Mennich for help and after a few years Mr Mennich took over the organisation of the Festival, and this continued right up to the early 1960's. The Festival was held on the Royal Pavilion Estate, initially in May, but after the Brighton Festival was founded, the BCMF changed its date to March, annually.
The Borough of Hove added their grant support during the 1980's and the name of the Festival was changed to Brighton & Hove Competitive Musical Festival. In the early '90s we were forced to leave the Pavilion estate due to prohibitive costs and the loss of the grant support from the councils. For several years the Festival was scattered in a variety of venues all over Brighton and Hove.
In the 1990's The Brighton & Hove Competitive Festival was re-branded and called Springboard. It continued to grow and covered all disciplines of Music, Drama, Singing and Dance. Throughout this time Penelope Charteris was Chairman and the Festival flourished under her leadership. In 2010 Penelope retired and once again the festival re-grouped. The Dancing and Musical Theatre singing sections decided to work together as Sussex Festival whilst Music, Drama and Singing continued as Springboard. This was mainly due to the fact that the Dance section was by this time too big to be held in any local theatres in Brighton; therefore we moved our ever-expanding Group day to the Hawth Theatre in Crawley.
Our motto is to constantly strive to improve opportunities we offer to young performers. Over the years literally hundreds of West End artists and film stars have made their debut performances at the Festival. Not everyone can become a professional performer, but so many participants have said that looking back, the Festival days were some of the happiest of their childhood.
Giving young people a platform to perform gives a platform for life.