Behind the Scenes Supporters Keep the Festival Running
As one of the major music festivals in Scotland, HebCelt is renowned for its economic and cultural impact on the islands and beyond.
However, while the festival is a key driver for tourism and generates millions of pounds for the economy, with knock-on effects far beyond Lewis, it requires a great deal of support, both financial and in-kind.
HebCelt runs almost entirely on volunteer effort. This year the ranks of our international team of helpers, who arrive from all corners of the globe, will be swelled by youngsters from the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) who will be travelling from Moray and Shetland to assist us for the first time. They will be joined in the volunteering stations by senior members of staff from CalMac Ferries, including service delivery director David Gibson, as one of our main sponsors takes a very hands-on approach this year.
CalMac, with whom we have agreed a new three-year sponsorship deal this year, have entered into the festival spirit in other ways, re-naming the ‘Loch Seaforth’ the ‘HebCelt Ferry’ for the week as it takes thousands of festival-goers from Ullapool to Stornoway, and hosting a trio of Fèis Rois’s musicians on board for a ‘floating ceilidh’.
CalMac are one of a number of regular backers of the festival. With support from them, and others like Creative Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, allows us to create a programme which mixes local, national and international artists and provides a platform for young up and coming talent.
We also have an enduring partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which this year, among other things, has helped us develop a new iPhone and Android app to keep festival fans on the go in touch with all aspect of the event.
Lewis Wind Power are backers for a fifth successive year, again sponsoring the Islands Stage which this year will feature 12 acts from different parts of the UK, including Kim Carnie, the Benedict Morris Trio, FARA, the Kris Drever Trio and Ferris & Sylvester.
The acoustic stage is sponsored by Lews Castle College, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, which also partnered HebCelt in running a competition for young talent who are studying, or who have studied, on one of the college’s music programmes. The winners, Jamie MacDonald & Christian Gamauf, are among a number of LCC alumni performing at this year’s festival, underlining the success of the college’s music courses and HebCelt’s desire to promote local artists and keep the islands’ musical traditions alive.
Loganair sponsored flights for members of Hudson Taylor from Dublin to Stornoway.
For the first time this year we have a media partner in The Herald which helps spread the word about the festival to a national audience in print and online, as well as across social media.
As a legacy from 2018’s Year of Young People, we are again hosting a young journalist from The Herald in a mutually beneficial arrangement that will help raise our profile and also provide invaluable experience for the visiting reporter.
We couldn’t run the festival without this huge level of help in whatever form it takes. But you only have to witness the transformation in Stornoway during HebCelt week; the extra passengers arriving at the airport or ferry terminal; the thousands of extra people in the streets, hotels, B&S, campsites, shops, bars and restaurants; the tourism bonanza and the £2 million annual income generated by the festival, to realise its money well spent.
Most of our audience will come back next year, meaning its an ongoing return on investment.
We are in the business of being creative, and that includes how we manage and finance a large festival in a relatively remote part of the world. But our friends and supporters will hopefully ensure we keep performing.
Caroline Maclennan, Director of the Hebridean Celtic Festival