As the days are getting shorter and the nights grow longer, we are getting ready for the Celtic festivities around Samhuinn and the celebration of the 31st Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

Discover what's new in the world of traditional arts, from inspiring book releases that will get you ready for SISF's Global Storytelling Labs to 2019 Hamish Henderson Centenary Events, Job and Mentoring opportunities and our reflection on a fantastic Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019.

'Come all ye' and join us for this colourful season and its festivities that will take you beyond words, across Scotland and abroad.

The TRACS Team
The Henderson Zeitgeist
The centenary of Hamish Henderson, song-maker, poet, folklorist, activist and radical educator has mushroomed into a huge celebration. All over Scotland events are taking place to commemorate his life’s work and ambition to transform Scotland’s view of itself, from the bottom up, and to re-affirm an outward-looking nation, through international solidarity.

On 4th September, the Scottish Parliament resounded to Henderson’s words, reflecting on his immense contribution to Scottish culture and astonishing journey from the margins to the centre of Scotland's sense of self.

Celebrations peaked during the month of August, when The Darg , an anthology of poetry inspired by Henderson and his many causes, was launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, by The Poets' Republic Press .

At the Scottish Storytelling Centre Fringe-goers were treated to the display of Sandy Moffat's Folk Renaissance group painting, as well as the launch a brand new HH portrait, whilst in the Netherbow Theatre, performances of 'On the Radical Road' brought Hamish's songs, poetry and essence to life.

Why does his work feel more timely now than ever? 

Follow the link and read the full article, by Storytelling Festival Director Donald Smith, and find out why #HamishMatters.
SISF & Festival on Tour
Beyond Words: Scottish International Storytelling Festival 18-31 October

There is no greater pleasure than the power of traditional storytelling taking listeners on a journey of the imagination.

The 31 st SISF features  60 events in Edinburgh and  22 throughout Scotland , with  15 international guests joining  60 Scottish artists  to share old traditions and new connections.

Our international exchange explores Scotland & Canada as First Nation and Scottish tradition bearers share and compare their story, dance and song inheritance, while the Global Lab features keynote speeches, debates and explorations of the role of storytellers in the 21st century.

The Festival on Tour ensures that international guest artists engage with local storytellers – their hosts - and meet new audiences, while seeing more of Scotland. Browse events in your region and don't miss out!

Whether you’re a storyteller yourself, a listener, or someone who is completely new to the craft, let SISF take you Beyond Words this autumn. Visit for details and news all around the festival.
Global Lab - Books to Browse and Inspire
The Scottish Storytelling Festival is delighted to host 5 days of Global Labs , offering you the chance to discover the power of storytelling and the role of storytellers in the 21st century, featuring keynote stories, talks, workshops and discussions, allowing for shared reflections on issues past and present.

Based on the Earth Charter Initiative , SISF Global Lab will explore the politics of folktales, ecological action through storytelling, wild nature, the art of conversation and mythic imagination. 

Festival Director, Donald Smith, says:

This year the Storytelling Festival reached across boundaries of culture, nationality and race. Never have we had so much need of authentic communication. Storytelling is much more than spoken words. It expresses human connection, shares culture and makes us at home in the world. ’  

In the run-up to these participatory sessions, led by international storytellers and experts, we have listed some of the latest book releases, so you can find new tools and inspiration, and dive into the themes, resources and stories ahead of the Global Lab Days.
Inspiring Literature
The Children's Forest

‘What greater gift could you give to your children than to help them fall back in love with the forest?’

Clare Dubois

Description: The Children's Forest is a rich treasury celebrating the outdoors and encourages children’s natural fascination with the forest and its inhabitants. Full of games, facts, celebrations, craft activities, recipes, foraging, stories and Forest School skills, The Children’s Forest brings the forest alive, inviting young and old to fall back in love with the forest.

Read our full review and check out for more information.
Healing Storytelling

Nancy Mellon's new book, Healing Storytelling , is a superb updated version of her classic book, The Art of Storytelling , by Hawthorn Press.

The book is a guide to help the reader release their own imaginative inner resources by encouraging the study of language, patterns and metaphors of traditional stories.

Enrich your storytelling practice in the fields of education, performance and group work with Nancy's guidance and expertise, thanks to her years of experience as a storyteller.

Read our full review and check out Nancy's website for more information.
The Anthology of Scottish Folk Tales

This enchanting collection of stories gathers together legends from across Scotland in one special volume.

Drawn from The History Press ’ popular Folk Tales series, herein lies a treasure trove of tales from a wealth of talented storytellers. From the Spaeman’s peculiar advice and a laird who is transformed into a frog, to a fugitive hiding in a dark cave and the stoor worm battling with Assipattle, this book celebrates the distinct character of Scotland's different customs, beliefs and dialects, and is a treat for all who enjoy a well-told story.

To find out more about the making and background to the anthology, read our blog post with plenty of interesting facts and information and go to to get your copy.
SSF Community Programme
The SISF Community Programme went live on the 2nd of September and runs until the 2nd of December.  Schools, community groups and Storytelling Forum Directory storytellers across Scotland are encouraged to take part in storytelling events and apply for a subsidy of £80 towards their event. 

September has already seen some great events, including storytelling sessions with the Leith Sea Scouts in Edinburgh and the Children's Wood community in Glasgow. 

Storyteller Owen Pilgrim was also invited to tell stories at the Garnock Valley Carves community event in Ayrshire, which focuses on the narrative between art, community and the natural environment. Now in its 2nd year, this event showcases some of the best wood carvers and chainsaw sculpture artists from across the globe. 

We're looking forward to hearing about your community storytelling events, to share the love for stories.
Haunted Voices
Following a successful fundraising campaign, Haunt Publishing are producing an oral and print collection of dark tales, both traditional and contemporary, which will feature many of our Scottish storytellers. 

There will be launch events to celebrate this collection from October onwards, featuring live performances from a number of storytellers. Stay tuned via social media and check out Haunt Publishing's website for news and event announcements.
SSF Blog Series

Ruairidh Maclean tells stories from the Gaelic tradition in both Gaelic and English. 

‘I recall sitting with the late Donald Angie Maclean of Scarp in his home in Sleat in front of a crackling fire when he recounted historical figures as if he had known them. In the storyteller’s way, of course, he had.’

Storyteller Jan Bee Brown talks about her adventures on the high seas and her challenge to ‘tell ten tales on ten tall ships’.

‘However, for me the stories that were the most important were the true tales of tenacity at sea from the volunteer crew as we sailed. I listened to the personal stories as a group of international strangers became a crew, sharing their hopes, fears and their relationship to the sea.’
Scots Language Awards
TRACS sponsored the Performer of the Year category at the recent Scots Language Awards, held at the Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow. TRACS Director, David Francis, is pictured here presenting the award to Dundee poet, Gary Robertson.

Other winners included Traditional Music Forum trustee, Iona Fyfe, for Young Scots Speaker of the Year. Iona was also one of the featured performers along with TRACS trustee, Steve Byrne.
New Mentoring Programme for Trad Musicians
New Mentoring Programme for Traditional Musicians in Scotland

Applications are now open for  TradMentor a programme offering traditional musicians the opportunity to receive mentoring from established practitioners.

Supported by Creative Scotland and the Youth Music Initiative , the programme is part of the Traditional Music Forum ’s ongoing support for artists working in participatory settings. This is not only for early-career musicians, but also for experienced practitioners who would like to make time for reflection in a supported context.

For T&C's and additional details, follow the link below:
TMF Survey
'Working as a Traditional Musician in Scotland'
Commissioned by the Traditional Music Forum , the 'Working as a trad musician in Scotland' survey aims to generate a snapshot of the economic conditions experienced by people currently working in the sector in Scotland.

A key driver for this research is to understand the effects of increasing digitalisation on the livelihoods and careers of traditional musicians in Scotland, and to establish the extent to which traditional music can generate a living wage for its practitioners.

The survey showed that just under two thirds of the people surveyed had worked for free in the past year in order to advance their career, with the practice particularly widespread among early career musicians.

Take a look at some of the key results, or dive into the full report to see participants' responses.
Dance Developments - Job Opportunity
In September, TRACS and the Traditional Dance Forum were sorry to say farewell to its Dance Network Co-ordinator, Michelle Brady. Michelle and her husband Paul have returned to her native Ireland to take up a post leading an arts development and outreach team. Michelle’s time with TDFS ended on a high after the success of the Nic Gareiss first foot residency. We wish Michelle and Paul every happiness and success for the future.
Seizing the moment, TRACS has decided to make the Dance support job a full-time position, so evening up support arrangements for music, storytelling and dance. This is a difficult decision at a time when finances are very tight, but it seems vital to move forward. The job will be re-named ‘Traditional Dance Development Officer’. 
We look forward to the next stage for TDFS and the role of dance in the work of TRACS.

Traditional Dance Development Officer
We are looking for a highly motivated and self-organised professional to support the work of the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland, administratively and creatively.

  • Title:  Traditional Dance Development Officer
  • Location:  Edinburgh, Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • Hours:  35 per week
  • Closing date: Tuesday 29th October 2019, 5pm

Letter of application with full CV to David Francis, Director, .
The Fringe at the Scottish Storytelling Centre
August is an incredibly busy time for the Storytelling Centre. This year, many performers chose to explore and react to issues in the world today, with Jenny Lindsay’s This Script exploring feminism and empathy, Mara Menzies’ Blood and Gold reflecting on Scotland’s colonial past through ancient myths and the ever-popular environmental fable The Man Who Planted Trees .

The need for stories like these to be heard was clear, as audiences flocked to the Centre, with a record 11,000 tickets sold throughout the month – a 15% increase on 2018! We were also delighted that Rowan Rheingans’ Dispatches on the Red Dress won a 'Fringe First Award' and was also nominated for the 'Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award', as well as the the 'Filipa Bragança Award' (alongside Mara Menzies).

We have strived to develop our Fringe programme over the past few years, standing separate from the commercial elements of the Fringe, as a haven where authentic traditional cultures in Scotland can flourish. Our audiences value the welcome they receive as well as the talent of the performers on show. This was reflected in a wonderful 10/10 Guardian review of the Centre, which said, ‘This joyful, noisy, energy-filled space brims with a love of live storytelling and its power to make us think and imagine.’ This really highlighted the type of experience we aim to offer and which our fantastic staff deliver on a daily basis.

I look forward to programming the venue for Fringe 2020 and welcome ideas and proposals from our networks to help shape another programme reflecting the great range of traditional arts alive in Scotland today.

Daniel Abercrombie, Programme & Festivals Manager
Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland (SC043009) brings together the Traditional Art Forums of Scotland to provide a common platform and collective voice for Scotland’s rich cultural heritage, and to improve the knowledge, practice, development and advocacy of traditional arts in a
contemporary world, making them more accessible to all.