Professor Frank Rennie at the HebCelt Acoustic Stage
As a volunteer ambassador at this week’s Hebridean Celtic Festival, Frank Rennie has a good perspective on how important the event is to both visitors and the community.
His on-the-ground role gives him a valuable insight that is also useful in his day job, as Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at Lews Castle College UHI in the festival’s host town of Stornoway.
Prof Rennie, who is an assistant principal at the college, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, has been a festival volunteer for many years and this week is working with the team to ensure crowd safety.
He has a foot in both camps this year as the institution is sponsoring HebCelt’s acoustic stage for the first time.
He said: “I get involved in the festival for two main reasons - I like the music (particularly the trad artists) and because I think that it is very important to show support for the HebCelt organisers.
“This is a wonderful event, with potentially mammoth impacts on the local economy, local society, culture etc. So, I feel that it is crucial that local people get involved and influence the event - not just as festival customers - but to give something from our community to the event, even if that is only a friendly face or local guidance. This is our festival, so we should get involved.”
He said the partnership between the festival and the university came about for similar reasons.
“HebCelt takes place right on our doorstep and we have several academic courses – from music and arts, through Gaelic, to rural social and economic development – that have direct links with the aims and aspirations of the festival.
“Therefore, it seemed a natural progression to the college marketing committee that we should step up and become more involved with the event. Helping out with sponsorship seems an appropriate move.”
The association is seen as a way of strengthening the festival’s cultural and artistic links with the islands community and the academic institution.
This year the university is introducing a night class in music making and also hopes to start a full-time sound production course in September.
Its Uist campus is also working with partners to create world-class recording and performance spaces.
The acoustic stage was added to the HebCelt main arena in 2014. This year it is featuring acts including Ryan Young, Zoe Bestel, Tristan Horncastle, Josie Duncan & Pablo Lafuente, Tamzene, HECLA, Katee Kross, Brighde Chaimbeul, Siiga and Days Are Done.
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