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Arts showcase was a summer success

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By Euan Maxwell
Arts showcase was a summer success

THE RETURN of Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival has been hailed as a triumph — having successfully delivered the region’s first live events after lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Over ten days in July, 68 performances — a blend of online and live shows — were brought to towns and villages across the south-west.

Taking to stages were the best of the region’s dancers, actors, musicians and artists alike, many of whom euphoric at the opportunity to perform following a 16-month hiatus induced by the pandemic which, despite impacting each and every person in different ways, had a profound effect on those who work in creative industries and perform for a living.

With the festival confined last year — much like the performers — to an online programme, the focus of this year’s jamboree was on local talent and the inspring surroundings of the region, which organisers encapsulated in the tagline ‘Hame’ll Dae Me’.

In total, live events were attended by 950 people with a further 6500 streaming performances online. Screenings were arranged for care homes and community groups to ensure everybody in Dumfries and Galloway had the chance to attend the festival in some form.

Furthermore, to ensure people with additional support needs could get involved too, a selection of events had the option of sign language, audio description and live captioning.

Partnering with Townsend Theatre Productions, the theatre company’s Talking Horse venue, a completely mobile stage, was toured through the region’s towns, which made possible self-contained, high-quality outdoor theatre performances that were covid compliant.

The shows were sell-out hits, with performances from professional trad musicians such as Claire Mann and Aaron Jones, BBC singer/songwriter of the year nominee Kate Kyle, the young magician of the year Brandon Barrett and emerging local performers Sarah Law, Jodie Rae and Chelsie Nash from the Stage iT youth commission programme.

The Festival also showcased the work of four local artists of national acclaim and supported local venue, Dumfries’ Theatre Royal Dumfries, after it closed for 488 days due to the pandemic. Despite working with very reduced capacities, all four shows sold out within 24 hours of promoting each act and the events were live streamed as part of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival at Hame programme.

Melanie Purdie, the festival’s strategic and creative director, said the showcase “instilled pride in the region, from the audiences who attended and participated, to the artists who performed on our stages”.

She added: “In the face of adversity, we are delighted with the outcome of our 2021 Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival.

“The team successfully delivered a festival within government guideline parameters that was supportive and celebratory, recognising the times we live in and an urgency to experience live theatre again.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have support from the region, our audiences, artists, funders, sponsors, patrons and Board members — to all of which, I gratefully thank. See you in 2022.”


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