The Arran Theatre and Arts Trust

Arran Theatre and Arts Trust is a registered charity, run by volunteers as a company limited by guarantee, which promotes, supports and develops the arts on the Isle of Arran, furthering opportunities for professionals in the arts and creating experiences which raise skills, awareness and improve access at community level.

Arran Theatre and Arts Trust also manages 4 distinct projects:

1. Arran Arts Resource

Arran Arts Resource is a team of  three professional artists, Ed O'Donnelly, Josephine Broekhuizen and Sarah Cook who work regularly with young people and school children on various arts related projects (film, visual arts and drama)

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2. Mclellan Arts Festival

the aims of the festival have been to honour McLellan's memory by not only performing McLellan's work,  but providing the means of creating new work in Scottish writing by running poetry and playwriting competitions, helping to develop the creative skills of young people, developing the visual arts, including film, running a music school on the island  and forging cultural links with other rural and island communities.

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3. Arran Film Project

This three year project has collected and collated archive film from the 1920s to the 1970s using the Scottish Screen Archive and the personal collections of Arran residents and Arran visitors. This is accompanied by a series of interviews with local people detailing events and stories of the times.


4. Arran Open Studios

Over 40 working artists opened their studios to the public over a weekend in August for the first time in 2012.
In 2013 the Arran Open Studios attracted many visitors and greatly increased the number of artists taking part as well as running craft workshops. In 2014 the event will be expanded to include yet more artists and, using the feedback we receive from visitors, we will be looking to include new aspects to the programme in order to keep Arran Open Studios a fresh and innovative addition to Arran's art calendar.

15th - 17th August 2014

see for more details

On this page
Arran Summer School
Arran Theatre and Arts Trust Directors report 2013
Collected works of Robert McLellan
Young peoples film project
Gaelic Project
News - Video from the creative places award

Arran Summer School
As part of the McLellan Arts Festival, the Arran Summer School is an eight day intensive course for aspiring solo singers. The school caters for 12 students who spend their days developing their technique and performance skills. The course is very intensive, but also relaxed and non-competitive and friendly expert tutors provide a supportive atmosphere for vocal and artistic development. Students will receive five individual vocal sessions and repertoire coaching. There will be an opportunity at the end of the course to perform in an opera gala and in a concert performance of an oratorio.
Previous tutors include: Peter Alexander Wilson, Patricia MacMahon, David Jones, John Fisher, Alec Crowe and John Wilson. The summer school 2014 will run from August 29th – September 8th and will cost £400 including all accommodation, food and teaching. For information contact Peter Alexander Wilson at Royal Northern College Manchester on 07879 631422

you tube - the song 'Isle of Arran' performed by the students of the Royal Northern College of Music

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Creative Places Award


Arran Theatre and Arts Trust, as lead in collaboration with many arts organisations(link) has made an application for this award to Creative Scotland. To the delight of everyone involved, the application was selected to go forward to the short list and the final results will be known on January 29th 2014.
All arts groups on the island were contacted and a representative group came together to consider the application which was then devolved to a smaller group who wrote the application based on the decisions of the larger group. If the application is successful, Arran would benefit from the sum of £100,000 to develop the arts on the island. 
As part of the final judging process we have been asked to submit a 10 minute presentation for the jury which we are working on right now. Many thanks to all those individuals and groups who contributed to the film which has been a worthwhile project in itself. Once the adjudication is over we will send a link to all those involved.
Whatever happens, this has been an extremely worthwhile venture encouraging arts organisations on the island to work together and consider how to further the development of the abundant talent on Arran in order to benefit individuals, the community and the island economy and we are appreciative of the opportunity afforded to us by Creative Scotland.
Groups involved in the application include: Arran Arts Resource, Arran Brass, Arran Events, Arran Folk Festival, Arran Jazz Cafe Band, Arran Highland Dancers, Art in Mind, Arran Music Society, Arran Open Studios, Arran Pipe Band, Arran Poetry Group, Arran Summer Music School,  Arran Visual Arts, Art in Mind,  Lochranza Choir,  McLellan Arts Festival, Roots of Arran, Rowan Singers, Spin Off.

Sadly we did not win

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Collected Works of Robert McLellan

After several years of planning and overcoming many difficulties, we are delighted to announce the publication for the very first time of the Collected Works of Robert McLellan. (link) The volume contains all work which McLellan himself wished to be published, many never previously published, with the exception of The Linmill Stories which have already been published separately, both by Canongate and Luath Press. This has been a long and arduous project undertaken by Arran Theatre and Arts Trust in conjunction with Luath Press who have produced a volume worthy of this important writer in Scotland's literary history. The editing by Colin Donati is impressive with important contributions by Douglas Gifford, Donald Campbell and Alastair Cording.
The launch will take place at Netherbow Theatre in Edinburgh on Saturday 12th April 2-4pm. Anyone wishing to attend should contact Heather Gough on 01770302670
The single volume will be available from April 12th and sells at £20. This will be available on Arran as well as main bookshops.

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Neighbourhood Planning Conference NAC
At the recent Neighbourhood Planning Conference run by NAC on Arran, the Arran Theatre and Arts Trust was invited to give a presentation on how the arts can build resilience in a community. A copy of the powerpoint presentation is here if anyone who was unable to attend the conference wishes to see it.

McLellan Arts Festival Review and Director's Report Arran Theatre and Arts Trust  2013.

Arran Theatre and Arts Trust AGM: Director’s Report November 2013

The work of 2012/2013 concerned mainly the organising and running of the McLellan Arts Festival and associated events, administering Arran Arts Resource, the Arran Film Project and the Gaelic Project.


Young People’s Film Project:
Arran Theatre and Arts Trust is grateful to North Ayrshire Council for funding the Young People’s Project. The funding enabled the Trust firstly, to run a highly successful and demanding weekend course in September 2012 for 18 enthusiastic and talented Arran young people aged 15 - 17 with an interest in acting, film technology, writing and directing to learn the skills of plotting, screenplay writing, storyboarding, acting for camera, filming, sound and editing in order to create their own fifteen minute film using Brodick Castle as a location.

Led by Kate Nelson of Nutshell Theatre and Ed O’Donnelly of Arran Arts the group worked intensively over the weekend during which many script ideas were developed, and training given for camera, sound and other associated filming skills as well as training given for acting for camera.
Secondly, funding has enabled ten sessions to take place following the initial training weekend,  during which all the filming tasks (concept, screenplay, performance, production, camera, sound, storyboarding, continuity and editing) have been entirely undertaken by the young people themselves to an astonishingly high level. The final shooting of the film took place at Brodick Castle during the weekend 10th/11th November 2012, and, after editing, had a public showing in February 2013 and is now available on Youtube. Arran Theatre and Arts Trust is grateful, not only to North Ayrshire Council but also The National Trust for Scotland for its help in allowing the use of Brodick Castle and the Victorian costumes used in the production and to Robin Fisher of Arran Events for lighting expertise.

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Gaelic Project:
This was instigated by North Ayrshire Council, led by Arran Arts Resource and Sheila Blain of  NAC and was completed this year. Its purpose was to raise cultural awareness of the place of Gaelic in Arran's heritage amongst all primary school children and focused largely on place names and their meanings in the changing landscape of the island.

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McLellan Arts Festival 2013:

This year  Robert McLellan’s play The Carlin Moth was performed as part of the McLellan Arts Festival. This play,containing some of McLellan's most lyrical and descriptive scots, is a poignant fairy tale set on Arran. It is a challenging piece, both because of the language and of the technical demands of lighting. Once again through  the accomplished direction of John Sillars, the technical expertise of Arran Events, in the guise of Robin Fisher and Andy McCallum, the haunting music composed especially by Diana Hamilton and the assured acting of Donald McEachern, Ailsa McNicol, Katharine O'Donnelly and Ceile Swinton-Boyle, this was a very successful production.

A welcome new venture was a  very successful concert  held in the Community Theatre given by the renowned Euan Stevenson Trio with guest appearance by our local Jazz doyen, Joni Keen. This was well attended and the eclectic mix of classical, traditional jazz and new composition by Euan Stevenson was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
An important aspect of the visit of the trio was a very successful and worthwhile workshop for school pupils in collaboration with Arran High School music department and PT, David Lambert.

This has been a very successful year for poetry at the McLellan Festival. A most successful Poetry Competition was run by Cicely Gill and David Underdown resulting in over 800 entries,  the largest number to date.
The poetry evening at the McLellan Festival was led by the competition judges, Anne and Peter Sansom who also presented the McLellan Poetry awards, five of whom were present, one coming from New York. After the adjudication, the judges read the winning pieces and this was followed by the winners reading  their own work again for the audience. This allowed for a greater understanding of the pieces and enjoyment of the event.
The following day, Anne and Peter Sansom led  a very successful,stimulating and helpful workshop in Corrie Hall attended by fifteen poets, mostly from the island.. The Festival was fortunate in financing this event through the Scottish Community Fund.

McLellan Festival Ceilidh:
Arran’s own extraordinary depth and breadth of talent was again on show at the well attended ceilidh at Corrie Hall. Hosted and ably led by Stuart Gough, the gathering of visitors and Arran folk danced the night away and was wonderfully entertained with piping from Sam Easson, an extract from McLellan's Arran Burn superbly read by John Sillars, beautiful songs from singing group, Vivace, powerful songs from Tim Pomeroy,  and a tremendous session from the Arran Jazz Café Band which had the whole room jumping. With a splendid feast on top this was, again,  a ceilidh to remember.

Arran Summer Music School:
Once again, Arran Theatre and Arts Trust worked in collaboration with Peter Alexander Wilson, teacher at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester in order to run a week long Summer School for talented music students. As a result of sponsorship from Auchrannie Resort and the generosity of local residents, three teachers and three accompanists were brought to the island to provide expert tuition for twelve young people, undergraduate and post-graduate students at Royal Northern College. Not only did the young people enjoy first class tuition but provided the island with outstanding performances on the Friday and Sunday evenings of the Festival. The students also contributed beautiful music to a church service held in Corrie Church - a special McLellan Festival service – during which John Sillars also read one of Robert McLellan’s stories with great skill and humour.
The partnership with Peter Alexander Wilson continues to be most successful and one which we all would wish to repeat if funding becomes available.

 Summer School Gala Concert:
As last year, students from the Royal Northern College of Music took part in a Masterclass Course with their tutors, hosted by the McLellan Arts Festival. On Friday night these amazingly talented young performers took to the stage at Arran’s Community Theatre with a Gala Concert that was simply stunning. Their voices were truly exceptional and the packed audience was enthralled by performances that brought out the humour, pathos, tenderness and romance from a wonderful programme of opera and musical theatre favourites.

Mendelssohn's Elijah
This year’s oratorio took place in the Community Theatre on the second Sunday evening of the Festival. This event again brought together the summer school music students and local choral singers for a rousing rendition of Elijah. With only limited time for rehearsals the singers fused beautifully under the benign baton of conductor, Alexander Crowe resulting in the best performance to date of the community oratorio.

A new venture this year was including a Scottish Film in conjunction with Corrie Film Club in the programme. The choice was Ken Loach's The Angel's Share and it proved a popular choice with a packed audience in Corrie Hall. This will be a continuing feature of the festival.

Funding 2013

Without support of our generous funders, the McLellan Festival would not take place. So, our thanks must go to:  North Ayrshire Council  for their continuing support contributing to the Young Person's Film Project, Open Studios and The Gaelic Project and, through the NAC Community Development Fund, to the workshops given by the Stevenson Trio and to the play production; Foundation Scotland for the  Poetry Competition, Performance  and Workshop;  Hugh Fraser Foundation for general support; Auchrannie Resort for sponsorship of the Summer Music School and music events. We also gratefully acknowledge the Scottish Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting Arran on Film and Leader for the Arran Archaeology Project. The McLellan Festival acknowledges its debt to all these organisations and to the hard work and support of the Steering Group and Arran community.

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