In January 2009, a press release by the Morris Ring launched a thousand newspaper articles on the impending extinction of the morris. Leaning heavily on the press release, the reports painted a bleak picture for the future of the morris. Charlie Corcoran, bagman of the Morris Ring, said: “This is a serious situation. The average age of morris dancing sides is getting older and older.”

In April 2014, the Daily Telegraph ran a more optimistic article on the future of morris: “After decades of decline, the numbers of dancers and sides… has started to creep up once more… [with] a rise of around 1,000 in the numbers taking part, to almost 16,000”.But do we really know how many morris dancers there are in the UK? What are the proportions of young and old, and of men and women? Which teams are recruiting new dancers, and how are they managing it?

These are some of the questions the JMO is aiming to answer with a ‘Morris Census’, a survey of all morris sides. The goal is to take a snapshot of what morris sides are like in 2014, by sending an online survey for bagpersons to complete. The questions cover such topics as the number and demographics of side members, side performances, recruitment and kit.

Hopefully your bagperson recently received an invitation to complete the survey by email. If they haven’t completed it yet, please encourage them to, as this is your side’s opportunity to be represented in the national snapshot. The survey will remain open until mid-July.

The project has been truly collaborative: members of all three organisations have helped to develop the survey, including the President of the Morris Federation, the outgoing and incoming Squires of the Morris Ring and the Treasurer of Open Morris. All of them have given great contributions to a survey that should give a really detailed insight into the state of the morris in 2014.

The findings need to be shared with the whole morris community, so I will be blogging about the results here at and tweeting @morriscensus. I hope to do much more besides, through newsletters and other means, to publicise what I find in the census. If you have any questions, you can contact me at I am looking forward to receiving all of your responses.

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