Keep Rural Arts Live: Spotlight Sessions

Have your say in who’s coming to Skye stages next year


As we plan for a safe future for performing arts on Skye, we are inviting our friends and supporters to have a say in what performances they would like to see in our venues next year.

To this end, those hard-working people at the Touring Network are showcasing a series of two Spotlight Sessions – specially curated nights featuring snippets of professional performances which could be touring Skye next year. This online event is free.

This is an opportunity for you, our audiences, to take a look at a small selection of great quality performances on offer for 2021 and have your say in who you would like to see again.

The event will be hosted by Falkirk playwright, novelist, performer and bletherer Alan Bissett, so expect an evening of joyous interaction as well as an introduction to six amazing performances.

These online events take place on Facebook (


SESSION 1 Thursday 20 August 8pm-9.30pm

The Sea and Me with Nicolette MacLeodA personal and moving show about the sea

Makeup by NoLogo Productions: Step into the Green Room with Lady Christina

Men with Coconutsan award-winning improvisational comedy troupe based in Edinburgh

SESSION 2 Thursday 27 August 8pm-9.30pm

Suffering from Scottishness with Kevin P Gilday: An immersive theatrical experience  confronting the unique absurdity of Scottish identity

Grandmothers Grimm by Some Kind of Theatreour favourite fairy tales like you’ve never heard them before

Horse: an iconic and utterly unique singer songwriter

We encourage lots of online banter before, during and after the performances.

DON’T DO FACEBOOK? That’s fine. We will post the link up on our website on the night. You won’t be able to interact, but you will be able to watch all three performances. Check back here at 8pm on Thursday.

We look forward to welcoming you.

PS The Touring Network (the body that supports, represents and connects independent promoters and performers in the north of Scotland) have set up a crowdfunder to Keep Rural Arts Alive and continue to bring high quality performance to the Highlands when it is safe to do so, of course. More information from HERE

SNH splashes out on Skye Festival

We are delighted to announce that Skye’s leading summer festival is one of 24 projects to receive a share in almost £150,000 from Scotland’s nature agency.

Through its Plunge In! Coasts and Waters Community Fund, and to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has invested £4,000 towards the costs of delivering the Féis an Eilein — the Skye Festival in 2021.

All being well, the festival returns next year to public spaces around the Isles of Skye and Raasay and will showcase the islands’ distinctive contribution to Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage through celebration, performance and conversation.

The new-look 10-day summer festival takes place between 2 and 11 July and will deliver a spectacular programme of world-class performances in music, theatre, dance, literature and a few very big surprises.

Our 2021 summer event will highlight the distinctiveness of Scotland’s coasts and waters while raising awareness of their fragility and the need to protect them for future generations.

EVENT: On Wednesday, 8 July, celebrated Scottish traditional musician Ingrid Henderson will present a virtual taster on Facebook of Message in a Bottle, a musical composition inspired by the movements of ocean currents and commissioned by SNH for the themed year. Ingrid will be joined in conversation for this free event by SNH’s Head of Marine Ecosystems Katie Gillham to talk about the inspiration behind her work and the links between traditional music, Gaelic language and Scotland’s marine environment.

Message in a Bottle also features musicians Anna Massie, Megan Henderson and Conal McDonagh with visuals from Somhairle MacDonald and animation from Cat Bruce.

The full commission will be performed at next year’s Fèis an Eilein.

Music at the heart of Home

As lockdown eventually eases, SEALL is looking at ways to come back to stages across Skye and Raasay in the safest way possible for our audiences, artists, supporters, volunteers and staff. It is our intention to continue to provide a network of community work, social care and education for our communities as well as support the struggling performing arts sector in Scotland well into the future. Our work and ethos remain the same as we adapt and re-invent our delivery.
While we use this time to work on our options for a safe and sustainable future of performing arts on Skye and Raasay, we have stepped onto the online stage to deliver a programme of music to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Thanks to generous support from the Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund, for June and July SEALL is live streaming concerts to residents, staff, service users, family and friends at An Acarsaid, Budhmor, Home Farm and to Kyleakin Connections every week.

Entitled SEALL at Home, we have enlisted the help of local musicians Donald and Lucy Livingstone; Ishbel’s Music Lessons; Angus and Eilidh MacKenzie; Anne Martin; John and Kate Masson and Katie Douglas. In addition, our Small Halls favourites Innes Watson, Hamish Napier Music and Su-a Lee have joined in to spread the joy of music and put a smile on the faces of our vulnerable neighbours. The wonderful Ishbel Strachan is co-ordinating the events and is doing a fabulous job in helping to reinforce good health and well-being to some very happy people.

This is such a worthwhile and satisfying project for SEALL and we thank everyone involved for making the sessions such joyful experiences.

Jackie Cairns, An Acarsaid: “We had a fantastic afternoon in An Acarsaid …. brought well missed friends all back together with our residents to have a wonderful virtual cèilidh. Music is so much part of the heart of the unit and what you guys are giving us is so much appreciated … bringing back normality to what is anything but at the moment. We all had tears in our eyes as we foot tapped and there was even some social distance dancing with staff.”

We hope to continue this work far into the future and will be seeking further funding to continue this very special and worthwhile project.

Planning ahead

SEALL’s plans for the coming months

SEALL remains committed to supporting the creative arts sector but the health and welfare of each and every member of our communities will always come first.

Reducing the spread of Covid-19 and keeping our communities, audiences, performers and staff healthy and happy is at the top of our priorities. To this end we have suspended our 2020 programmes in venues across the island until we get the all-clear.

Cultural events are important to the well-being of communities. As the situation changes, we aim to let everyone know what we are doing and keep the channels of communication open, encourage good practice for everyone’s well-being, engage our communities AND continue to bring performing arts to audiences on Skye and across the world.

If the audience cannot come to us, we will come to the audience

And for the next few months or so we will be using our social media channels to continue our programme online to bring news and exclusive performances straight to your computer, tablet, mobile phone, console and smart TV.

As the nation battens down the hatches, people will be turning to their TVs and social media for information and entertainment.

If any community, individual or business on Skye and Raasay has an idea of how we can work together to spread some joy in these most testing times, please do get in contact.

We may have to exercise social distance but there is no reason why distance cannot allow us to remain social.


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Postponed: We have postponed all events taking place between now and theend of July and will review the situation on a regular basis. We have cancelled the affected events on our website, social media and ticket site but hope to bring them to Skye once the Government declares it is safe to do so.

Ticket refunds: If you have already purchased your tickets online for a cancelled event, Ticketsource will refund the full purchase price plus any booking fees. Once we cancel the event, you will receive an email telling you how to proceed to refund. Please be patient, Ticketsource says it will honour all refunds but they are inundated at the moment, staff are working from home and progress may be a little slower than normal.


As from 17 March, the staff have been working from home. We will still be contactable via email (all contact details from HERE) or via our social media channels (listed above). If anyone has any queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the meantime, stay safe and we hope to see you all online.


Retirement is buzzing

Those of you who are wondering what SEALL founder Duncan MacInnes has got up to since he left the charity in November, can see from the picture that he is still keeping busy and looks the bees-knees in his sting-protective gear.

As a thank you for promoting performing arts in Sleat for 28 years, Duncan received a beehive from SEALL’s staff, members and friends, and will soon have a colony to look after.

Through this news feed, Duncan has asked us to thank all who supported SEALL over the years, for everyone’s wonderful good wishes and for the sweet gift of honey-making.

We hope to hear all about Duncan’s bee-keeping exploits once the colony arrives in Spring and sample a jar of that honey once it comes off the production line.

Small Halls receives trad gong

We were delighted to receive the Community Project of the Year Award at the recent MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2019.

At a glittering ceremony held in Aberdeen’s Music Hall at the beginning of December, the 2018 SEALL Festival of Small Halls (the first of its kind in Europe) beat off stiff competition from music projects Blazin’ in Beauly, Fèis Rois’ Kin and the Community and Bogha Frois: LGBT+ Voices in Folk, to win the prestigeous accolade which is sponsored each year by Skippinish.

We are absolutely over the moon to have been given such a prestigious accolade for the festival in its first year and were not expecting it at all. The other nominees are all so worthy of the title and we really didn’t believe we would be in with a chance up against such great competition. We therefore had no speeches prepared and, when our name was announced, we sat for a moment or two in shock!

Thanks to all who voted for us, to the people and businesses who supported us, our extraordinarily talented musicians and to everyone who turned out on some very cold wintery nights to attend the events.

We were also so pleased to see Skye music teacher Iain Ruari Finlayson winning the Youth Music Initiative’s Music Tutor of the Year at the awards. Ruari is an inspiration to the young rising stars of trad music on Skye and continues to make a significant contribution to the Island’s musical heritage. We are so pleased for him. His award is so well deserved.

Congratulations also to our amazing Small Halls musician Megan Henderson whose band Breabach won Album of the Year for their latest release Frenzy; and to the wonderful Su-a Lee who received an Inspiration Award on the night.

AN INSPIRATION TO ALL: Cellist extraordinaire Su-a Lee receives her well-deserved award from MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards founder and promoter Simon Thumire.

Festival of Small Halls – over 50% tickets sold

We are delighted about the response to the Festival of Small Halls. Several venues are almost sold out and over 50% of all tickets have gone. Do not miss out – BOOK NOW! Remember that in many halls you can BOOK a MEAL beforehand, in addition to the gig ticket. Look out for details of the additional workshops and events going on.

Support SEALL at the AGM

SEALL Annual General Meeting and Members gathering will take place in the SEALL office at 7.30pm on Tuesday 19 November. While SEALL is looking for a couple of additional Trustees on the Board, there is no pressure to sign up, just by coming along on the evening! Come and hear about SEALL’s wonderful year of events, the benefits of being a Member, the large increase in turnover, number of gigs and staffing, and everyone involved. It will also be Duncan’s last AGM with some conversataion about the wonderful new places that Marie, the team and the Director’s will be taking SEALL.

Introducing new staff member

Rosaidh Phillips joined SEALL as our new Administrative Assistant on October.  After completing her masters at Aberdeen, Rosaidh returned to Skye in 2017 as a multi-lingual administration whiz-kid. She first worked with SEALL as part of the youthful front-of-house management team for the Skye Festival / Fèis an Eilein in the late 2000s. She counts the monies, supports our Front of House volunteeers and keeps our Membership up to date.




SEALL’s technology improved

Ruari Gordon is a newcomer to Skye, and has been involved in festivals and events mostly in Arran but also elsewhere in Scotland. When he is not planting trees in north Skye he is a current UHI student. Ruari joined SEALL in June 2019 to take SEALL’s sound systems into the digital age and develop our ability to take sound and lights out around Skye for events in our small halls. SEALL now has high quality mobile sound, enough for two venues and a mibile lighting set in addition to our fixed lighting in SMO.