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Coronavirus pandemic musical lifeline delivered via Dingwall-based Fèis Rois strikes a chord across Scotland


By Hector MacKenzie

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SOME £40,000 has been awarded via a Ross-shire arts organisation to 12 musicians across Scotland to support them to deliver youth music projects.

The projects include singing workshops for refugees and new Scots in Glasgow, an online Scots singing for wellbeing project, early years music-making in Highland, East Renfrewshire, Perth and Kinross and Glasgow and music provision for care experienced young people in Badenoch and Strathspey.

Dingwall-based arts organisation Fèis Rois was awarded a funding pot of £40,000 through the Youth Arts Fund Small Grants Scheme to distribute to musicians delivering traditional music projects for young people.

The Youth Arts Fund Small Grants Scheme is part of a Scottish Government Covid-19 funding package to the support the arts, administered by Creative Scotland.

Fèis Rois opened its funding pot to freelance folk musicians living and working in Scotland looking to work directly with children and young people most impacted by the pandemic, and invited musicians to apply for between £500 - £5000 to support their projects.

The organisation, which enables people of all ages to access, participate in and enjoy the traditional arts and Gaelic language through a diverse programme of activities, has now provided funding to 12 musicians living and working in six local authority areas.

Charlie Stewart.
Charlie Stewart.

Charlie Stewart, a fiddler from Perthshire and 2017 winner of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, has been awarded funds to support him to deliver a project with Seamab Residential School in Kinross, working with children with additional support needs. He said: “I’m really grateful for the funding from the Small Grants Scheme and I’m looking forward to working with the children at Seamab Residential School. The students will have the opportunity to be involved in the arrangement process, learn about different instruments and enjoy different kinds of music.”

Paisley accordionist and Fèis Phaislig c-ordinator, Grant McFarlane, will use the funding to deliver a series of music-making sessions aimed at young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, giving them the opportunity to come together, with their families, and make music through workshops aimed at developing confidence and self-esteem. Grant commented: “It’s really fantastic to be a recipient of the Small Grants Scheme and I know this is going to make a huge difference to young people and their families across Renfrewshire. The grant will be used to bring together young people and engage them through traditional music, song, dance and more. I can’t wait to get started and give participants a fun and positive experience of traditional music and culture.”

Catriona Hawksworth.
Catriona Hawksworth.

Another of the successful applicants, Catriona Hawksworth, a contemporary pianist and member of six-piece vibrant folk band, HEISK, added: “I'm delighted to have been awarded funding for a ten-week project in nurseries in Perthshire, introducing 0-5 year olds to the delights of traditional music. The project will provide some well needed musical interaction for the nurseries and encouraging creativity after a tough year.”

Other successful recipients of the fund include Gaelic singer Mischa Macpherson who will deliver free singing classes for young refugees and new Scots living in Glasgow; award-winning Scots singer Iona Fyfe will run an online series of singing workshops offered to young people, aged 17-25, living in Scotland who may be experiencing ill mental health; and Charlie McKerron, one of Scotland’s finest fiddle players, will work with care experienced young people in Badenoch and Strathspey whilst also mentoring two graduate musicians, Ilona Kennedy and Hamish Hepburn.

Fiona Dalgetty: "At Fèis Rois we support people of all ages to access, participate in, enjoy and benefit from the traditional arts and we are delighted that, through this fund, we have been able to support these freelance musicians who will now deliver these incredible musical projects which will really help to make a difference to the young people involved.”
Fiona Dalgetty: "At Fèis Rois we support people of all ages to access, participate in, enjoy and benefit from the traditional arts and we are delighted that, through this fund, we have been able to support these freelance musicians who will now deliver these incredible musical projects which will really help to make a difference to the young people involved.”

Fiona Dalgetty, Fèis Rois chief executive said: “The Youth Arts Fund Small Grants scheme is particularly aimed at activities with young people most affected by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. Priority groups for the Small Grants Scheme include young people living in areas of social and economic deprivation, young carers, young people with disabilities, those experiencing mental ill health, and several other groups.

"At Fèis Rois we support people of all ages to access, participate in, enjoy and benefit from the traditional arts and we are delighted that, through this fund, we have been able to support these freelance musicians who will now deliver these incredible musical projects which will really help to make a difference to the young people involved.”

The successful applicants will commence projects from the end of April this year and will have until March 2022 to complete their projects. They will also receive two training and networking sessions to support them with their projects.

For a full list of successful recipients and their projects or to find out more about Fèis Rois, please visit www.feisrois.org.

Successful applicants

Iona Fyfe (Glasgow) – The Scots Singing for Wellbeing project; An online series of singing workshops offered to those living in Scotland between aged 17-25 who may be experiencing ill mental health. Although based in Glasgow this will be available to young people across Scotland.

Mairi-Therese Gilfedder (East Renfrewshire) - A series of concerts to introduce babies and toddlers to Scottish Music whilst creating a calm and welcoming environment for their parents and carers to socialise.

Catriona Hawksworth (Perth & Kinross) - This project will allow nursery pupils to have fun and work on listening skills whilst playing together and developing group-work skills, whilst also providing engagement with new sounds and language to help make up for lost time due to Covid-19.

Grant McFarlane (Renfrewshire) - A series of music-making sessions aimed at young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Working with Families First (Renfrewshire Council), the project will give young people and their families the opportunity to come together and make music through targeted workshops aimed at developing confidence and self-esteem.

Charlie McKerron (Highland) – Highland Council is currently working to set up a new education hub to support young people from both the Grantown Grammar and Kingussie High school catchments. Charlie’s project will embed music provision for these young people ahead of the development and will be delivered in partnership with Fèis Rois and Highland Council, and it will also provide training opportunities for two graduate musicians from the area.

Mischa Macpherson (Glasgow) - Free singing classes for young refugees and new Scots living in Glasgow.

Ailie Robertson (Glasgow) - The grant will support the development phase of a project which will create and share an enchanting live music experience for the very young.

Lilian Ross (Highland) - Workshops aimed at 0-5 year olds in rural settings, utilising storytelling, song, music, and art to help them develop listening, social, communication and team work skills as well as increasing their memory, fine motor skills and spatial awareness.

Gillian Stevenson (Highland) - Music making opportunities for primary school pupils from the Highland Virtual Academy (HVA).

Charlie Stewart (Perth & Kinross) - Seamab is a residential school near Kinross that cares for and educates children with additional support needs, and Charlie's project will consist of several visits to the school to introduce traditional instruments and music.

Emma Tomlinson (East Ayrshire) - Funding to run the Ayrshire Traditional Music Summer School which will be held online, and free of charge, this year.

Anne Wood (Highland) - Providing early years music activities in rural Highland communities.


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