Festival launches 2018 programme

Scotland’s largest rural performing arts launches its 39th programme tonight with a spectacular concert of sublime classical strings and two of the best traditional musicians to come out of Scotland.

Catriona McKay (Scottish harp) and Chris Stout (fiddle) – who have been nominated in this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for Best Duo – will join the Scottish Ensemble at the Theatre Royal, Dumfries, on 15 March to perform Court and Country, a concert of refined and rustic rhythms from Bartók to Bach, which includes music from the critically-acclaimed Seavaigers by Sally Beamish.

This concert will be preceded by a civic reception, with a welcome speech by Dumfries and Galloway Council leader Elaine Murray, which will launch 2018’s exciting programme of 10 days of music, theatre, dance, comedy and children’s shows taking place in venues across the region. This year’s festival takes place between 25 May and 3 June.

Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival has received considerable support from its funders which include Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the William Grant Foundation and Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company.

Festival chair, Ken Gouge, said: “We enjoy continued support from the likes of the Open University, The Crichton Trust, Barfil Charitable Trust, The Holywood Trust and DG Unlimited. We are also fortunate enough to receive the generosity of a large number of patrons, members and sponsors. All our supporters recognise the importance of bringing quality live performing arts to venues across the region and their support helps to sustain and improve the delivery of this service.

“Our funders have ensured Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival grows bigger, better and bolder year-on-year and allowed us to bring exceptional work to a part of Scotland that comprises a large number of remote rural communities and small towns. By supporting us, our funders are allowing those communities to experience world-class performing arts on their own doorsteps, without having to travel miles to a big stage and at a fraction of the price of a city concert.

“This also means we can secure performers of the highest quality and bring them to even the smallest venues throughout the whole of the region. We are also able to experiment with our programme to bring diverse, innovative and ground-breaking events to the south of Scotland, in turn supporting the wealth of local and national performance artists in these times of economic adversity.

“This level of funding recognises the importance of the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival as a key event on Scotland’s wider cultural map.”

Karen Dick, Place, Partnerships and Communities at Creative Scotland, said: “This year’s Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival provides an incredibly diverse programme, giving audiences of all ages, the opportunity to delve in and experience art in many different forms. Across the 10 days, the festival will welcome the local community and visitors from further afield who will come together, to share, learn, enjoy and be inspired by what they see.”

Councillor Adam Wilson, Events Champion at Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “The launch of the Arts Festival programme each year is always a time of tremendous anticipation.

“Year on year the Festival has become more ambitious in its programming and developed a greater number of partnerships across Dumfries and Galloway to bring superb live music, theatre, comedy and performance to all parts of the region.

“The Arts Festival and the three other cultural signature events funded by the Council’s unique Major Festivals and Events Strategy 2018-2021 are raising the bar for quality developments in the arts in Dumfries and Galloway.  Check out online what is going on during the 10-day festival or pick up a brochure – you’ll be amazed at the exciting line-up planned.”

The full 2018 programme will be announced on 15 March and will include events from Scottish Ensemble, The National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Dance Theatre, some of Scotland’s most respected traditional musicians, five-star theatre, a host of hilarious comedians, and more events from the region’s performing artists than ever before. The event will also include a brand new programme made by young people for young people.

Festival programme director, Peter Renwick, said: “Once again we have a 10-day programme of some of the best performing arts events in the country in venues across the breadth of Dumfries and Galloway.

“The programme will be revealed on 15 March and I can say this is our most diverse and exciting programme to date. We have a full line-up of internationally-significant performing artists plus a great selection of some of our home-grown talent.

“I can also reveal the launch of Stage iT during the festival. This is a brand new project delivered by young people for young people over the course of 2018. Our young promoters group has been working very hard over the year to put a fantastic programme together and we are looking forward very much to the project’s launch.”

Attaining major support from Event Scotland and the Holywood Trust, Stage iT will host a number of quality live performances throughout the year, kicking-off with a High Street Takeover on Saturday, 25 May at Dumfries Plainstanes. This event will include Block – a daring spectacle of aero-acrobatics from NoFit State Circus and Motionhouse; remarkable dance theatre from Janis Claxton’s pop-up duets, a showcase from local young musicians; a set from the exciting Tinderbox Orchestra; and a few treats from this year’s festival.

Tickets and a full programme will be available from 9pm tonight.


Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival is funded by: Creative Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Council, The William Grant Foundation, Dumfries & Galloway Unlimited, The Robertson Trust, The Santander Foundation and Annandale and Eskdale Community Benefit Company (events in Annandale).

Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival is one of seven identified Signature Events of the regional Major Festivals and Events Strategy 2018-2021. The status of Signature Event secures two year funding for the Festival for 2019 and 2020. The Council recognises the cultural and community importance of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival and is committed to supporting its growth.

Stage iT Young Promoters Group is a new Dumfries and Galloway group staging live performances for young people by young people. Events will take place throughout 2018 as part of the Year of Young People. Stage iT is funded by: Event Scotland and The Holywood Trust.