Innovative Scottish islands arts programme to aid cultural and economic recovery

An ambitious multi-art form programme funded by the Scottish Government and co-ordinated by Fèisean nan Gàidheal is launched this month, setting the wheels of rural recovery in motion with traditional arts as its vehicle. Treòir | Voar | Virr, meaning “a guide” or “energy, spring, vigour”, sees more than 50 creatives from more than 90 inhabited Scottish islands working with the community and the children of their local schools to learn about the area’s history and heritage through the arts. It will also provide employment and re-training opportunities for freelance creatives living in these islands following the loss of work for many due to Covid-19.

More than 80 island schools have taken up the opportunity to get involved in intensive multi-form art sessions, taking place between November 2021 and June 2022. These sessions will support various aspects of the curriculum based on Scottish culture, encompassing Scotland’s indigenous languages and dialects, music, drama, story, dance, and visual art, while also delivering accredited training for assistant tutors through West Highland College, University of the Highlands and Islands.

Whilst Fèisean nan Gàidheal supports Gaelic culture in all aspects of its work, this programme will promote all local language including Orcadian Scots and Shetland Dialect. Lost language and local stories are the twin pivot points of this project across island school communities, whilst making a nod to any shared experiences between the islands such as Clann-nighean an Sgadain, the Herring Girls who travelled from their homes in the Western and Northern Isles to perform tough seasonal work gutting herring across Scotland and England’s coasts.

Beairteas is an existing Fèisean nan Gàidheal initiative which aims to bring back richness of language that is in danger of being lost to the present generation. Much the same way as Robert MacFarlane has captured The Lost Words in his book of the same name and Spell Songs have been woven around these precious words, Treòir would expand this theme of recapturing our lost traditions, stories, vocabulary, idiom and art forms while encouraging a modern response.

This feeds into 2022, which has been designated Scotland’s Year of Stories, a year in which stories inspired by, created, or written in Scotland will be showcased and celebrated. On the road to recovery, telling and listening to stories through different art-forms will surely provide children and their communities with a strong sense of belonging and connection. A love of stories is a shared human experience – stories are vital to every part of Scotland and every community has its own tales to tell.

Download the press release here.

Creative Scotland The Scottish Government Bòrd na Gaidhlig Highland Council Argyll & Bute Council William Grant Foundation We are a Living Wage Employer