In 1954, in order to raise funds for a modern larger hall for the Mordialloc Methodist Church, three church members organized a Talent Quest with four sections, Piano, Vocal, Speech & Drama and Novelty. This event was so successful it was decided to continue this venture and in 1955 the first Mordialloc Methodist Eisteddfod was held with sections for Piano, Vocal, Speech and Drama.
The competitions continued on an annual basis and the completion of the new hall in 1963, the Hall of Remembrance, enabled the Eisteddfod Committee to introduce new sections, Verse Speaking and Vocal Choirs. In 1966, a dancing section was commenced. The Eisteddfod was held at this venue for many years.
From the outset Adjudicators of very high standing in their particular field were chosen. Although the initial motivation had been to raise funds for a hall, it soon became apparent that the functioning of the Eisteddfod was very important in its provision for young students of the arts to perform before an audience and so gain in experience and confidence. It gave entrants an opportunity to hear one another, to learn and develop skills, and to receive adjudication and constructive advice from highly respected and qualified teachers of the performing arts.
After a few years the name was changed, omitting the Methodist and so the event became The Mordialloc Eisteddfod. This enabled the Committee to seek a wider range of sponsors – local, business, Council, Government and private citizens, without whose support the Eisteddfod would not have continued to operate.
The Aria was sponsored by The Standard News and became well known as The Standard News Aria and was considered an important stepping stone to vocal competitions held by The Royal South Street Society in Ballarat.
Over the years important changes were introduced. A highly popular Dancing section brought with it increased revenue with its large audience base. Support from members of Beta Sigma Phi, generous consideration from the Mentone Girls’ Grammar School Board with venue fees, plus sponsorship from The City of Mordialloc, The City of Kingston, Arts Victoria and other sponsors ensured the continuation of the Eisteddfod.
In 2009 The Mordialloc Eisteddfod changed its name to Eisteddfod by the Bay. The present committee’s commitment for the future strives for an increased drive for sponsorship and for maintaining an up-to-date website. The new name acknowledges its position as the oldest ongoing established Eisteddfod between Geelong and Portsea.
Eisteddfod by the Bay was awarded the City of Kingston 2010 Community Group of the Year. This honour surely recognizes the ongoing worth of the Eisteddfod which has become a significant event in the Cultural Calendar of the City of Kingston and surrounding areas.
The Voluntary Committee has never lost sight of the initial objective of the Eisteddfod to provide an encouraging performance platform for young students of the performing arts.