The creative director of a performing arts promotion charity on the Isle of Skye has been rewarded for a quarter of a century of dedicated service to his community and Scottish traditional music.
Duncan MacInnes, of Skye Events for All (SEALL) in Sleat is one of seven individuals who have been inducted into this year’s Hands Up for Trad Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.
The award recognises people who work tirelessly to help their community and enrich the lives of others through selfless service or charitable work. Inductions will take place at a ceremony in Glasgow’s Òran Mòr on 2 November.
The services to the community category of the awards, reflects the 25 years Duncan spent as a volunteer bringing Scottish traditional music to audiences in the south of Skye as well as nurturing and supporting the local young talent of his communities by providing the musicians with their first experiences of public performance.
Duncan has lived in Sleat all his adult life and worked as a countryside ranger at the Clan Donald centre at Armadale Castle. It was here he first began promoting performing arts events, after the Old Stables building was turned into a restaurant.
Duncan said: “Because I was involved in the local drama group here, Edinburgh Mime Company approached me and said they wanted to come to Skye. I got them into the village hall. That got me thinking the Stables at Armadale Castle would make an excellent performance space and, by default, I became the centre’s arts officer. We put on events with the likes of Capercaillie, Seolas, Archie Fisher and Hamish Imlach.”
In 1991, Duncan finished working for the Clan but realised there was still an audience for performing arts on Sleat.
He said: “We had a very good local audience by then and so a group of people set up SEALL with me. I started promoting events in venues around Sleat and, 27 years later, I am still at it.”
Each year, SEALL delivers a year-round touring programme and the Fèis an Eilein, The Skye Festival. Their offices are based at the Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and the organisation was recently given top approval by the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP who 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 …” and “…connects with the local communities to help serve them.”
Based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic College, in Sleat, SEALL runs a year-round programme of almost 80 events as well as the Fèis an Eilein – the two-month-long Skye Festival in July and August.
In 2016 SEALL developed into a professional team of three paid freelance staff, to which Duncan, as creative director, is one. He continues to volunteer some of his time in the evenings as master of ceremony at SEALL events.
This year, with the help of continuing support from Creative Scotland, funders, members and supporters, the community-led organisation revealed ambitious plans to broaden its reach to venues and communities across Skye and Lochalsh as well as improve its programme. It is expected that 2018 will be a landmark year for SEALL which will host its 2,000th event.