For the past few months I’ve been volunteering for the Stirling Fringe Festival: a small multi-arts festival now in its third year. The festival begins this Friday 18 September and runs until Saturday 26 September. It will host a variety of musicians, comedians, singers, actors, poets and writers, across a range of venues throughout the city. That it runs at all is nothing short of remarkable.
Stirling, as a city, both benefits and suffers from its proximity to Glasgow and Edinburgh – particularly in relation to the arts. In less than an hour by train, you could be right there, in the heart of one of the biggest arts festivals in the world, or discovering some of the best venues, museums and galleries in Europe. How can Stirling compete with that? How can any smaller town compete?
The simple answer is it can’t. But it can offer something innovative, fun, funky and inspiring on your doorstep, which is exactly what the Stirling Fringe set out to do: with a bucket-load of enthusiasm, very little money, a skeleton volunteer staff, the goodwill and support of other venues throughout the city and some funding from EventScotland and Stirling Council.
And it works.
This year, in partnership with the Tolbooth, Scottish hip-hop artists and political agitators, Stanley Odd kick off the festival. Throughout the week, you can have your spirits raised by a range of artists: enjoy a relaxing night at the Guildhall Music Club, catch up with local music scene, laugh along with an array of comedians at various venues, and celebrate the spoken word with local writers and poets.
There’s theatre, a family day with children’s entertainers, craft stalls and games, storytelling for schools, dance and opera.
And to round it off on a high, there’s a night of salsa (tequila optional) – preceded by an hour’s dance lesson, so you really have no excuse!
All of this is possible thanks to a team of volunteers whose motivation is not monetary but is the promotion and celebration of the arts in Stirling, Scotland and further afield. Who give their time freely and devotedly. Why? Because they believe in the ability of the arts to make our hearts sing; to add colour and flavour and depth to the world. And in today’s world, that’s something of which to be proud.
I for one, can’t wait for the Stirling Fringe to begin. See you there.
For tickets visit: http://www.macrobertartscentre.org