By Roz Macaskill
Mongolian throat singers, jazz theatre and traditional music – all and some more will be brought to you this year from SEALL.
SEALL (Skye Events for All) have been entertaining locals and visitors since 1991 with over 1,808 events! Their eclectic range includes opera, traditional music, jazz, comedy and theatre. Over 70 events have been booked for the year-round programme in 2018, many of which will feature in the Skye Festival.
The Skye Festival/Fèis an Eilein will take place between 3 July and 21 August 2018. The line-up includes ceilidhs, opera, jazz, piping and singing.
Duncan MacInnes, the Artistic Director, says the performance he is most looking forward to is that of the Mongolian Anda Union Singers in late May.
"This is one of the more unusual of our events, and is part of a tour to 22 rural venues in Scotland. They created such an impact at Celtic Connections that we realised we must bring them to Skye."
2018 will also see SEALL bringing events to village halls around the island. Marie Lewis, SEALL's event manager, will lead that project: "We got the idea from a festival in Prince Edward Island. The Festival of Small Halls is ten days long and holds performances in local village halls. It prompted us to think of doing the same thing round Skye village halls."
The new festival will be held in November and, though details are yet to be finalised, is likely to go as far afield as Plockton and the Isle of Raasay.
At the heart of SEALL is a team of three part-time staff and nine directors, plus 25 volunteers. The team recently moved premises into another wing of the original Sabhal Mòr Ostaig building in Sleat.
Already, SEALL's enthusiasm has developed. "The new space was opened by Kate Forbes, MSP and Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Minister for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs. We are able to have meetings and training sessions here," explains Duncan. "We have a sense of purpose."
The SEALL team is keen to build Skye's reputation as a traditional and lively hub. "There needs to be an emphasis that Skye is full of events," Duncan said.
"We are getting involved with cultural tourism, producing more events and making Skye known as a cultural centre of rural Scotland. We want to be on the map as something visitors will enjoy."