The PMF was founded during World War I in an attempt to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Portsmouth. Organisation began in 1917, with the first festival taking place in 1918. It was affiliated to the newly formed British Federation of Festivals in 1922 and grew in popularity in the ensuing years. After World War II, four people who had previously been working within the Festival, met to discuss its future. They had only £15.00 in the bank but were blessed with enormous enthusiasm. The revived festival has continued to go from strength to strength.
Today, the PMF annually hosts performances from a large number of people from the community, who enjoy making music, dancing and/or acting. These contributors are almost all amateurs who wish to give pleasure by their performance and to learn from the adjudicators and from other performers. It is the largest annual community event to be staged in our city, and possibly the most educational and informative. There is no pressure ‘to pass the exam’, the preparation teaches discipline and team work and increases skills in communication, all of which are positive attributes to have in life today.
Since 1992, the PMF has been very fortunate in the support given to it by its sponsors, advertisers and by the Festival Friends’ scheme. It has also developed many partnerships with local organisations that offer special opportunities, awards or prizes to performers. Chief among these have to be the Ports Fest Recital Prize (formerly Portsmouth Festivities), the Solent Symphony Orchestra Concerto Award and the sponsorship by the Milton Glee Club of a young player to the European Youth Music Summer School. These opportunities for our young people are an important link between the Festival and its colleagues.
While costs have risen enormously, so have standard of performance and the expectations of both the participants and audiences. We continue in the hope that the founding fathers of this Festival would be proud of how their work has grown and been developed within the community of Portsmouth.