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Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS) is a new organisation set up in 2012 to represent Traditional Arts in Scotland. It's a new collaboration between three representative Forums: the Traditional Music Forum, the Scottish Storytelling Forum and the newly formed Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland. 

The first aim of TRACS is CREATIVE: to encourage more collaboration across the art-forms and languages. The Traditions we enjoy are holistic, inclusive and welcoming. So let’s be inspired by these rooted values to innovate and develop across boundaries.

The second aim is ORGANISATIONAL: to share core resources in areas such as admin and publicity, so as to ensure effective communication and promotion for Trad Arts activities. We could project our collective assets of artists, festivals/fèisean and local traditions more strongly to our cultural and economic benefit.

The third aim is DEVELOPMENTAL: to lobby for more support for Trad Arts, to build partnerships with other arts organisations, with education and with areas of Scottish life which can benefit from Trad Arts resources and activities.

The ‘Traditional Arts’ – music, song, dance and storytelling – have enjoyed a long, deep and meaningful history amongst the people of Scotland. For centuries, it has been these art forms which have served as the main outlet for our creative minds and energies, as the vehicle for our emotions and as a catalyst in bringing us together. Some of these traditions have far-reaching roots, others have been more recently developed or adopted, but whatever their origins and provenance, they continue to have great significance and value for us today.

But what actually is ‘tradition’? Is it just something that belongs in the past? Is it about harking back to a time now gone, to lament its passing and to shut out the realities of modern living? The answer is a resounding ‘no’! Tradition may flow from the past, but it moves, changes and adapts as it does so. To Hamish Henderson, one of our greatest thinkers and creators of modern times, tradition is a carrying stream, flowing through time and picking up new ideas on its way. It is not a stagnant pool or a mere moribund memory, but is constantly being re-shaped and renewed. It does so because its practitioners listen and respond to that which has gone before, yet enjoy the freedom to move it forward on their own terms. They know its roots, but roots are not tethers. They do not bind us to the past, but rather feed, nourish and allow new growth.

And the traditional arts of Scotland today have plenty of new growth. Our artists and creators who are working within that traditional idiom – our singers, instrumentalists, composers, storytellers, dancers, choreographers – have plenty to say to us about the big issues of modern life. They speak of humanity, inhumanity, of war, peace, morality, love, environment, work, place, family, nation, community. They tend to do so from firm local roots, but looking outwards and forwards, not inwards and backwards. Often they begin with the local, work out to the national, and aim from there for the global.

It is fair to say, however, that much of this has gone un-noticed or unappreciated by the wider public over the past few decades, and it was recognition of this that led the Scottish Government to commission a report into the state of play of the Traditional Arts in 2010. That report, which consulted widely within the sector, made a number of recommendations regarding the way forward, and it is in response to this that a new body, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, has been set up. It brings together the Traditional Music Forum, the Storytelling Forum and a newly initiated Traditional Dance Forum to provide a common platform and a stronger voice for all those working in this field.

We are very positive about the future of the traditional arts, and we will work extremely hard to ensure that we can do everything we can to help them thrive.

Gary West, Chair of TRACS

Tradition, then, is a story, learned from the past, told in the present, but looking to the future.



Traditional Music Forum

The TMF is a network of around 80 music organisations supporting Scotland’s vibrant traditional music community.

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Scottish Storytelling Forum

The Scottish Storytelling Forum was founded in 1992 to encourage and support the telling and sharing of stories amongst all age groups and all sectors of society.

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Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland

Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland is currently being developed with the aim to support all Scottish traditional dance forms as well as other traditional dance forms established in Scotland.

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Courses and Workshops

We host a variety of courses and workshops to give you access to quality teaching and resources for the traditional arts and Scottish culture.

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