Puppet Animation Festival visits the parts other festivals don't reach
Taking place in 40 venues across Scotland, the Puppet Animation Festival is the UK's largest performing arts event for children. Some of the more rural hosts explain why it's important to be included
Audiences in big towns and cities across Scotland are well served when it comes to performance – but for those in more rural locations, going to the theatre can mean a long and potentially expensive journey.
Committed to taking high quality puppetry and animation to venues across Scotland, the Puppet Animation Festival tours to many of the places other festivals and shows fail to reach. Here's what it means to the venues it visits …
Alex MacDonald, An Lanntair, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
'I think it's important events tour to every part of Scotland, as quite often we see things that are "nationwide" only to discover that doesn't include the Islands. So I think our audiences appreciate it when companies make the effort to come here – but equally, notice when they don't!
'Audiences in the islands are no different to those in cities really (other than in terms of numbers), they like to see a wide variety of quality shows on offer and An Lanntair aims to bring the best of what is available nationally, and internationally, to their door.
'That said, we are also an organisation that is rooted in, and very proud of, our location and cultural heritage, and as such it's great that some of the puppet companies are reacting to this by offering bilingual shows using the Gaelic language.
'Companies are discovering that Highland and Island touring is becoming more "doable" and enjoyable, and are reacting to that by creating specific shows that appeal to every area. I also think that the Puppet Animation Festival can bring both the chance to view a performance and the opportunity to take part in workshop activities, and as An Lanntair has a particular interest in running associated education and outreach activities we're happy to take part.'
Joni Brown, Argyll Arts Collective at Lochgoilhead Village Hall, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park
'Going to see a show can be a fun and enjoyable experience, it can provide learning opportunities and be a source of inspiration and I hope that by bringing the Puppet Animation Festival to Lochgoilhead, it will provide some of these things for our youngsters.
'This event will bring the community together to have a shared experience of something magical and out of the ordinary, and then the chance to participate in the after-show workshop and learn some new skills from the artists.
'The Argyll Arts Collective is a fairly new venture which only officially started organising events late last year so we are still getting to know our audience. So far, we've hosted Company of Wolves theatre company, a blues concert and Kathakali Classical Indian Dance and Theatre. The Little Fawn Caravan, which the Puppet Animation Festival is bringing, will be the first event we've hosted for children.
'The aim of the Collective is to promote theatre, dance, music and visual arts and make them accessible for everyone of any age – but equally we think it's important that the children who live here have the chance to participate and learn from artists and musicians by participating in workshops. The Puppet Animation Festival event is giving them an opportunity where normally they might not have had the chance.
'The Collective is tackling issues of social isolation by providing opportunities to come together, it gets people active and out of the house interacting with one another.'
Susan Stewart, Wauchope Town Hall, Yetholm, Scottish Borders
'It's very important that these sort of events tour across Scotland to smaller venues like ours, because we are a rural community of approximately 600 people and the hope is that we will encourage young and old to participate in, and enjoy, live events such as this without having to travel long distances.
'I try to include at least one event that is family friendly and have included the local primary school in a bag drop of the event so hopefully this will encourage families to come along. It is a Saturday afternoon the week before the Easter break so hopefully will catch folk before they go off on holiday.
'Wauchope Hall is a great venue for staging all sorts of events: theatre, music and film – and I have recently signed a contract with the National Theatre to show live streaming of their productions.
'We are 25 miles from all the other main Border towns that have these kind of facilities, so we encourage people from a wider area to come to our events. The Hall seats 100, has a stage, PA system and a couple of people who help with lighting. It's well used and much appreciated by locals, so we're spreading our net a bit wider now.'
Peter Hall, Universal Hall, Findhorn
'The Puppet Animation Festival has been a fixture in our programme for many years and we are delighted to be part of a national event. We feel that the range of venues in the Festival tells audiences that they are part of a quality touring programme. It also shows that they can, if on holiday, find performances around the country.
'The Universal Hall is the main theatre venue in Moray and provides audiences with a wide ranging menu of music, dance and theatre. We consistently get around 100 people at Puppet Animation Festival events. Many children come every year, and for new ones it introduces them to the theatrical experience. Almost all the shows allow children to interact with the puppets after the show and the puppeteers are always good at welcoming the audience into the theatre.'