Welcome to Skye’s new cultural hub

“Pleasure to officially open @SEALLEventsSkye new hub – great people with a passion for culture”

Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Minister for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

Scotland’s new cultural arts hub celebrated its official opening on Friday morning with a number of very special guests.

During her short visit to Skye last week, Fiona Hyslop, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, visited the new office and community space of SEALL (Skye Events for All), the largest rural touring promoter in the Highlands.

The community-led performing arts promotion charity runs a year-round touring programme and the Fèis an Eilein, the Skye Festival. SEALL’s head office has been situated on the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig campus in Arainn Ostaig for a number of years but, owing to an increase in staff in late 2016, needed more space. Last week, they moved upstairs to the old library room and transformed the space into an ambient and comfortable cultural hub where artists and members of the community will be made welcome. 

Between a wet and windy trip to the Fairy Pools and a tourism summit at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the minister took time to officially open SEALL’s new offices alongside SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate Forbes.

Guests included Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Principal Boyd Robertson, Lucilla Noble of Fearann Eilein Iarman, local dignitaries and members of the Skye communities who were all treated to a warm Island welcome and a few songs by Ùig Gaelic singer Anne Martin. The Minister was also presented with a book entitled An Leabhar Liath by Ian MacPherson and Peter Mackay, which provided the inspiration for a concert by Anne during this year’s Féis an Eilein.

The Minister said: “SEALL is an inspiration to what can be achieved in terms of support for Scotland’s culture. Over the years, SEALL has become one of the best rural performing arts promoters in Scotland with a great reach and range of events.

“SEALL connects with the local communities to help serve them and is one of the best organisations across the UK in terms of its ability to mobilise its many volunteers in a very rural area.

“Skye has always been on the cultural map and achievements such as this are the life blood of our communities.”

Mrs Hyslop made particular note of Scottish band The Elephant Sessions who come to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s An Talla Mòr on Thursday, 16 November, as part of SEALL’s 2017 autumn programme.

She said: “The Elephant Sessions are one of those Scottish bands who are on course for a great career. I saw them recently on the Pavillon de l’Écosse at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France. They got such a good reception that the pavilion floor broke!”

On Twitter, the minister tweeted: “Pleasure to officially open @SEALLEventsSkye new hub-great people with a passion for culture- they have @ElephantSession gig soon.”

Kate Forbes added: ““I was delighted to join the Cabinet Secretary for Culture to officially open the new SEALL offices in Sleat.

“SEALL is a fantastic initiative – I’m on their mailing list and so I see the fantastic variety of events.

“I commend the huge amount of work that has gone in to building up SEALL and it was great to spend time with the team and the Cabinet Secretary to celebrate those successes.”

SEALL chair Eileen Armstrong said: “It was a great privilege to welcome everyone to this momentous day in SEALL’s history and the opening of a brand new cultural space on Skye.

“This will be more than just an office and we hope its informal atmosphere will not only encourage locals and visitors to drop in for a chat but will also provide a welcoming space for our performing artists to meet and rest before their concerts.”

Established in 1991 by director Duncan MacInnes, award-winning SEALL has grown from a small community events organisation in the south of Skye to the largest performing arts promoter in the Highlands, delivering a diverse mix of quality live events to locals and visitors in an area with a population of around 800 people.

Duncan said: “We were absolutely delighted with the turn-out to the opening of our new cultural hub and for the show of support from the Scottish Government, councillors and members of our local communities. We offer our thanks to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for offering us the use of this space and for our on-going partnership.

“Above all, we owe our continued success to the tremendous support we receive from our funders, partners and communities as well as our board members and the volunteers who give their time and effort to make SEALL events so popular. Of course, SEALL would not be here without the support from local people and visitors who make it a priority to come to our events in all weathers and at all times of year.

“SEALL is all about bringing top quality events to remote rural areas of the Highlands whilst embracing our Island’s unique cultural heritage and we are proud to be considered leading lights in the creative sector of Scottish culture.”

SEALL administrator Marie Lewis says she is looking forward to welcoming visitors to the new hub. She said: “We are very grateful to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for facilitating this new move. We’ve spent some time and effort in transforming the old library into a comfortable, informal space.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors and artists to Skye’s new cultural hub and extend a warm invitation to anyone who is interested or involved in performing arts on the Island, as well as members of our wonderful communities, to come in for a chat, have a coffee and see what we do.”