Big Lit was a big suc­cess


“A rip-roar­ing suc­cess” was how BIG LIT: The Ste­wartry Book Festival artis­tic di­rec­tor Chrys Salt de­scribed the five­day event, which con­cluded on Sun­day.

Five bumper days saw Gate­house of Fleet and Kirkcud­bright host an ex­plo­sion of all things lit­er­ary - po­etry, launches, prose, song, his­tory and work­shops.

Pol­i­tics and cabaret added to the mix with a chil­dren’s pro­gramme of pup­petry, mag­i­cal time travel, folk tale and mad­cap­pery en­ter­tain­ing around 350 young peo­ple.

Ms Salt was thrilled at how the BIG LIT con­tin­ues to broaden its ap­peal.

“Many folk said it was the best one yet,” she told the News. “It has been an ab­so­lute blast. “If you build it they will come.” Among many mem­o­rable mo­ments one stood out as a mea­sure of how art has the abil­ity to light up the lives of ev­ery­one.

Ms Salt said: “One lit­tle girl who was slightly autis­tic had been si­lent for most of the year, ac­cord­ing to the teacher ac­com­pa­ny­ing her.

“But in the pup­pet show she threw her arms up in the air at the end and shouted “hur­ray!”

“Just to see that hap­pen made all of it worth do­ing.”

Multi-award win­ning novelist, Bernard MacLaverty in con­ver­sa­tion with poet Tom Pow, the fa­mil­iar face of BBC health ed­i­tor Hugh Pym on how The Church of Scot­land sup­ported 50,000 WW1 sol­diers, poet Adrian Mitchell’s daugh­ter Sasha with mu­si­cian Pete Moser with a fab­u­lous Cabaret of her dad’s poems and songs, all fea­tured in BIG LIT’s rich and var­ied pro­gramme.

And poet Brian John­stone with DJ John Ca­vanagh spin­ning the discs of the pop and rock of the 50’s 60’s and 70’s and a pow­er­ful ren­di­tion of Beck­ett by fine ac­tor/broad­caster Peter Marinker held folk’s rapt at­ten­tion.

Mean­while, Scot­land’s story and the ever top­i­cal is­sue of cli­mate change were themes that ran through the fab­ric of this year’s festival, from Muriel Spark to a cel­e­bra­tion of Scot­land’s women; from ‘green lines’ hung from Poe­trees to Cairn Cho­rus’ brand new pro­gramme re­flect­ing the chal­lenges and suc­cesses of the nat­u­ral world.

Ms Salt added: “BIG LIT’s brief is to bring to­gether lo­cal tal­ent with writ­ers and per­form­ers from the Cen­tral Belt and across the Bor­der.

“Thanks to gen­er­ous fund­ing from the Re­gional Arts Fund, The Holy­wood Trust and other or­gan­i­sa­tions, lo­cal busi­nesses and pri­vate do­na­tions we were able to at­tract some starry folk to the re­gion.”

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