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In addition to a feast of concerts and cèilidhs taking place across the Highlands and Islands over the past week as part of Blas 2019, a programme of music and drama workshops has been delivered by Fèisean nan Gàidheal as part of the festival’s schools programme. 


The drama workshop, Latha Naomh Anndrais: Coibhneas(St Andrew’s Day: Kindness), was created as a response to global arts movement Fair Saturday, which coincides with St Andrew’s Day, with over 20 primary schools across communities in Lewis and in and around Inverness where children in P5-7 are learning Gaelic as an additional language. 


Delivered by Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s formal education arm, Fèisgoil, the workshop explored the core values of Scottish society, wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity as outlined in the Curriculum for Excellence with schools encouraged to get involved in the Fair Saturday social media campaign #OneKindAct.


Eilidh Mackenzie, Fèisgoil manager with Fèisean nan Gàidheal explained that Sporan, now in its third year, was the name given to their theatre-in-education support service for schools learning Gaelic as an additional language and continued: 

“The 2019 Sporanworkshop takes the reputation of patron saint, Andrew, as a kind and compassionate man and uses these values to ask questions around migration and societal change. The ethos of Fair Saturday – which is all about potential social impact through the arts – is one we embrace. Culture and language can shape our outlook and these themes are excellent tools for introducing children to traditional culture and language of the area in which they live and help recognise positive learning opportunities through local culture in a global context.  We are absolutely delighted that the interactive workshops were delivered by aunt and niece duo, Marisa Macdonald (Machair) and Debbie MacKay (Bannan) in Lewis and Inverness respectively. Debbie also worked alongside Fèisgoil staff to create the resource.  We are grateful to Còmhairle nan Eilean Siar for additional funding to run the workshops in Lewis.”


Through funding from Colm Cille, a partnership between Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Foras na Gaeilge, Blas was able to organise a series of workshops with Gaelic and Gaeilge speaking musicians. Seonaidh MacIntyre and Muireann Ni Raghallaigh visited Gaelic medium pupils in primary and secondary schools in Inverness, Dingwall and Nairn. The workshops involved traditional music, songs and a short talk on the opportunities Seonaidh and Muireann have had through Gaelic and Gaeilge.


Seonaidh said “It was a very rewarding experience for Muireann and I to visit these schools and give a short musical performance to the school pupils, sharing a little about the work we do and the doors that have been opened for us through Gaelic and Gaeilge. It was great to see how engaged the schools pupils were and the keen interest they had in our music, language and culture.


The Blas festival comes a to a close with a daytime International Cèilidh on Saturday 30thNovember in Inverness and a programme of evening concerts and cèilidhs taking place across the Highlands.

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