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Update about the 2020 Festival

Tom Muir

Photo: Tom O’Brien

After considering our options the committee of the Orkney Storytelling Festival has decided to change the format of this year’s festival, which runs from the 22nd-25th October.

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic we have had to abandon our programme for 2020, which was to have seen two highly gifted storytellers coming as our guests. Anne Hunter and Mio Shudo will have to wait another year, but they will be here in 2021 to delight audiences with tales from Britain and Japan.

The 2020 festival will be a mixture of pre-recorded storytelling events and live streamed events, where local storytellers can observe social distancing. We shall have to wait until nearer the time to see what the rules are regarding distancing and indoor gatherings before taking a decision on whether or not we can have an audience and how many that can be. A programme will be published once we have it confirmed. We have to assume some restrictions in movement of people and distancing measures. We have audience members travelling long distances to attend – last year we had people from the USA, Canada and the Faroe Islands, as well as from the UK, travelling to Orkney to be at the festival. But we have to be mindful of the safety of our island community and not encourage visitors to Orkney until it is deemed safe to do so.

We are known as ‘the small festival with the big heart’, and with good reason. Not only do we go to great lengths to make our guest storytellers welcome, but also our audience. At this time of uncertainty, due to the virus, and the disturbing increase in hate speech and violence in some sectors of society in many countries, it is a time when stories are more important than ever. Why? Because they bring people together. They carry our values and morality. They are inclusive to all people, as human beings. As the old Scots saying goes, ‘Wir a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns’, meaning we are all the same. So, we will carry on in another form to bring amusement, comfort and wonder into people’s lives, for everyone that we share this glorious planet with.

Love, and stay safe.

Tom Muir


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