The National Institute of Allied Arts (NIAA) which today holds four annual festivals – Vocal and Instrumental (Eisteddfod), Speech and Drama, Literary and Visual Arts began its life in 1913 as the Rhodesian Eistedffod describing itself as a ‘Society for the Advancement of Music and the Arts’ . The first festival was held on the 12th of May 1913 in Bulawayo


To build up a knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the arts by affording people, mainly school children, the opportunity to participate and perform in the fields of music, speech, drama, literature and art.

“Since its inception candidates who excelled have received awards. The earliest recorded was a medallion presented in 1927 while the earliest certificate is dated 1938”



The institute could not have thrived as it has without the

dedication and hard work of several personalities

This gentleman arrived in Rhodesia in 1929 and immediately joined the Salisbury Eisteddfod Society has he had a beautiful tenor voice. He went on to become the secretary in 1938 and served as Chairman from 1953 up to his death in December 1985. A tremendous contribution covering 57 years. He said in 1963 and repeated this in 1973 - “The vitalizing effect of festivals is to stimulate the individual into practicing the arts, producing a high standard whereby confident performances are given leading to the open gateway of teaching others or alternatively entering the challenging world of entertainment – in other words – doing things for yourself rather than letting others do it for you”.
Ruth as Chair with Ellen Greene as Vice Chair and Sheelagh Crowther as Treasurer ran the Institute from 1992 – 2001. At that time the three annual festivals were Vocal and Instrumental, Speech and Drama and Literary. Visual Arts was introduced in 1998.
KEITH NICHOLSON and RICHARD WILDE were instrumental in steering the Institute through some interesting years 2006 – 2018. Once dollarization took place there was concern that the Institute would not be able to afford to continue in 2009! Thanks to sponsorship from the Association of Trust Schools and corporate sponsors the festivals were able to continue grow.
VIVIENNE McCURDY became the Chairlady in 1986 and with the assistance of many well known personalities – Moira Howman, LITERARY Keith Napier, Clive Barnes, MUSIC Neil Chapman, I Jones, M McKenzie SPEECH AND DRAMA Margaret Grace and Hilary Anderson – kept the festival alive.
Chairman 2002 – 2005. As Head of Prince Edward School and a supporter of the Institute for many years Clive delivered a farewell speech for Ruth Grint at which he reminded us all that ‘I was handpicked at the tender age of 26 by Harry Stone to be a member of the committee’. He described Ruth as a ‘determined, articulate and steely lady’ who with her team ‘put the institute on a finely tuned, streamlined business like and administratively sound footing..’


Festival Directors are key to running individual Festivals.

Over the years some names stand out:

  • I Jones
  • M Benzon
  • Nicky Hammond 2008-2021
  • Natalie Bacon 2022
  • Dido de Swardt: 1997 – 2006
  • Rima Trew: 2007
  • Gavin Peter: 2008 – 2017 (a towering character who really brought the festival ‘alive’.)
  • Musa Saruro: 2018
  • C Barnes
  • K Sharples
  • K Napier
  • B Abrahams 2004
  • Sharon Dutton (the driving force behind the introduction of this festival in 1998 – 2007)
  • H Bhagat
  • L Cawood
  • D Hart
  • V Hounsell 2016


The Institute is indebted to several corporate sponsors

who have supported us by sponsoring specific festivals


Over the years many people have assisted with running the office

  • Paddy Baker
  • Judy Panas
  • Di Kilalea
  • Phil Ferris
  • Alison Garrard (Treasurer for 8 years)
  • Fatima Naik
  • Kathy Norman
  • Tracey Doorman and Stephanie Cranston.