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Creative Industries Festival For Caithness - The Skald

21st September 2015

Photograph of Creative Industries Festival For Caithness - The Skald

Caithness is gearing up to be even more creative with the launch of a brand new festival, the SKALD, which opens its doors on Friday 02 October. The two day event has been organised by a collaborative comprising Alistair Murray (Big Box), Sophie Dunnett (North Highland College UHI), Rob Arthur and George Gunn. Supported by a wider SKALD team project managed by Ann Thomson they will be highlighting and showcasing the importance of the creative sector to the local economy.

George Gunn said: "I've always hoped that we could set up a local creative festival based on writing because it is the beginning of all the collaborations necessary for theatre, television and film. Without good writing nothing happens. That the SKALD is taking place is testament to the groundwork laid down in the past by my own Grey Coast Theatre right through to recent achievements of Big Box in the film medium and the development of the promotion of creative writing by the North Highland College UHI."

Creativity is big business for the UK, worth nearly £80bn to the national economy comprising a wide range of activities including film, music, arts and culture, fashion, crafts, games and publishing. Significantly, the creative industries are a potential growth sector in Caithness. Within this context a number of threads have been coalescing over the last few years ranging from Highlands and Islands Enterprise creative industry strategy, North Highland College UHI academic programmes and private sector initiatives.

Alistair Murray continued: "At Big Box we've laid a 10 year plan to help develop a film industry in the far north from the ground up. Capacity building is on target through using local talent in our shorts and as we gear up for our first feature Sisters Curse we can anticipate substantive help from the advanced plans of North Highland College UHI with its imminent degrees in film production and creative writing. So this is very much a ‘build it and they will come' remit and since we've started more and more people are starting to dance together in the field with us."

Sophie Dunnett added: "At North Highland College UHI we have been working closely with Big Box and George Gunn for a number of years. We see the benefits that the Creative Industries sector can provide to the local area and are committed to working in partnership with the private sector. I am really excited that our student’s work, in writing, film and music will all be a part of the SKALD."

The SKALD has been financially supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Highland Council, Regional Screen Scotland and the Scottish Writers Scheme and sponsored by Big Box and Navertech. This year’s festival will feature a variety of performances including films by Caithness linked Producers, Directors and Actors who will all provide Q&A sessions for the audiences. Renowned fiddler Gordon Gunn and poet George Gunn will showcase their ‘Musical Map of Caithness’ whilst local writers will conduct readings. A panel of experts will provide guidance for people interested in a creative industries career and, continuing the overall theme of how to get involved, North Highland College UHI bands drawn from the new music course intake at Alness will play at the end of festival party.

Rachel Skene concluded: "We recognise the ambitions and potential of the SKALD to contribute to the creative industries sector. The investment in this new initiative, brought forward by active members of the creative industries in collaboration with North Highland College UHI, is very much in keeping with our commitment to encourage and support entrepreneurialism and innovation across the sector."

At Highlands and Islands Enterprise we’re delighted this event is taking place. This fits perfectly with our regional creative strategy and we want the SKALD to capture the imaginative high ground by building the awareness of industry opportunities to future practitioners. I’m really looking forward to having fun and meeting lots of people at the event.”

The SKALD festival takes place on 02 and 03 October at the ETEC Centre at North Highland College UHI and the post event party is booked in the Central Hotel in downtown Thurso. Half-day, full-day and two-day tickets are available from
www.skaldfestival.co.uk

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