Arts Festival hailed success

Council events champion Colin Smyth with festival chair Ken Gouge, programme director Peter Renwick and members of Gavin Marwick's Journeyman Spectacular.

Council events champion Colin Smyth with festival chair Ken Gouge, programme director Peter Renwick and members of Gavin Marwick's Journeyman Spectacular.

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Scotland’s largest rural performing arts festival has good cause for celebration.

The 36th Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, which ended its 10-day run on Sunday with a stunning set of performances at the Easterbrook Hall, Castle Douglas and Stranrear is on course to be the most successful to date.

Its aim to bring world class performing artists to all parts of the region, plus nurture the home grown talent from Dumfries and Galloway and bring it to a wider audience, was realised this year with a record audience turn-out, sell-out events and a huge level of support from local performing artists, venues and the public.

Early indications show a 45 per cent rise in ticket sales from last year; a large number of capacity audiences to events across the region; and new audiences reached.

Programme director, Peter Renwick, said: “The feedback from this year’s festival has been absolutely brilliant. We had some huge audiences for the Scottish Ensemble, Macmath – Silent Page, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Dogstar Theatre, right across the region”

“Many shows were complete sell-outs. We are still waiting for more information to come in but can say the 2015 festival was extremely well supported.

“This year we provided support for local performing artists and venue managers to put on their own productions and this resulted in some very imaginative events such as the Poetry in the Countryside event at Crichton Farm which involved a walk around a working farm and poetry readings. Also, a brand new performing arts group, The Buskers, put on a show of music and words to appreciative audiences in Annan and Whithorn.”

“At present, it’s clear that this year’s festival has grown significantly and has also attracted new audiences. We are so pleased with the support of what was a very diverse programme.”

Festival chair, Ken Gouge, is delighted with the success of this year’s festival. He said: “This year saw the biggest performing arts festival take place across Dumfries and Galloway. It has been an outstanding success.

“We were thrilled to be working with new partners for 2015 who were provided with the financial and technical support to put on their own shows.”

This year a record number of young people were involved with the festival.

Thanks to major funding from the Holywood Trust, the festival was able to encourage young people to take part this year, both on stage and behind the scenes.

Opportunities were provided for young people to work with artists such as the Scottish Ensemble and the Rajasthan Heritage Band.

Many also worked behind the scenes such as young film group Scene 1 Take 1 and a group of young photographers who learned the art of concert photography from Kim Ayers.

Ken added: “The success of this year’s festival came together because the people of Dumfries and Galloway got behind it; involved themselves with it; and turned out to attend the performances.

“Our aim to bring world class performing arts to the region as well as nurture our own young talent came together this year in many forms and, in particular, Macmath: The Silent Page – a world class performance by world class performers Emily Smith, Robyn Stapleton, Wendy Stewart, Aaron Jones, Claire Mann and Ali Burns, who are all from Dumfries and Galloway.”

The Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival is hoping to widen its scope in order to bring high quality performing arts performances across the region throughout the year. Anyone who wishes to get involved in any way should contact the festival office at Gracefield Arts Centre on 01387 259627 or email info@dgartsfestival.org.uk

Nest year’s festival takes place between May 20 to 29. Further information from www.dgartsfestival.org.uk