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Erika Cragg from Falkland Traditional Music Festival brings us up to speed with this growing traditional music festival in the heart of Fife.
" Falkland Traditional Music Festival is a small and intimate festival set in the heart of Fife. It aims to promote and encourage Scottish traditional music and song through workshops, competitions, sessions and concerts. Our workshops allow singers and musicians to build and develop skills, while competitions help with confidence and improving playing and performance.
A typical festival opens with a ceilidh on the Friday night and features floor spots from our festival guests as well as rousing sets from our dance band. This year we have local boy Colin Dewar and his band and are looking forward to what will be a great night! We always get a varied crowd each year with a mix of locals, dance groups seeking out ceilidhs across the country, enthusiasts, regular supporters and visiting tourists, last year from Norway and South America.
Our guest list is kept small, to give each guest a good amount of time to perform during the concerts and even then the time still flies in. Guests are chosen on their ability to be involved in a number of events throughout the weekend, from performing in concerts to leading workshops, talks and adjudicating competitions. One of the benefits of this is that we get a greater insight into what our guests do and given the high calibre of guests we book, it is always fascinating to find out more about them. We are always delighted to be able to book such high quality musicians and singers and aim to support a mixture of professional and non-professional.
We keep our programme simple and don’t allow any events to cross (with the exception of the Saturday morning workshops) to enable people to attend all our events. We also finish early on the Saturday night to allow everyone, including guests, to join a session. Even the guests like to be able to sit back and listen to others and earn a well-earned rest after their busy day. We also like to bring guests together over the weekend and encourage them to perform together when they get the chance, as well as performing by themselves, and this often leads to unexpected results and collaborations.
It can be difficult running a festival when you don’t live in the town, and we sometimes feel a bit like it is imposed on the locals. We’re making a big effort to be more involved in the town and the local community so that locals feel it is as much their festival as the people coming to Falkland and feedback has been very positive and supportive. We face challenges from low numbers of competitors but have been reassured that this is the case across Scotland. Closing and changing venues and pubs is always topical and one we keep adapting to. Finding supportive pubs for sessions is key to our festival atmosphere in the town and we have been lucky so far.
We strive to be financially independent of any grants and hope to be able to sustain this. We had a hard year last year which has taken us to the point of considering grant applications but we are hopeful that we will see it through without it coming to that! It would be good to see our hard work on increased publicity and greater contacts with other similar and like-minded organisations paying off and allowing us to pay our way. We are enlisting more recruits from the community and have very enthusiastic volunteers who help to make the festival happen. Everyone involved loves traditional music and that is the common thread even though our backgrounds couldn’t be more different!
Most of all we look forward to welcoming people this summer. The Festival this year runs from 23-25 June. Follow developments on our website here"