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Young creatives receive funding from Highland arts community

By Alan Hendry

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Mathilde Darmady is one of those who will benefit from the new fund.
Mathilde Darmady is one of those who will benefit from the new fund.

A teenager from Caithness is among a group of talented young creatives who have received a much-needed boost from the Highland arts community.

Eighteen-year-old Mathilde Darmady and 16 others from around the Highlands and Islands will benefit from a new fund that provides financial support and mentoring to emerging artists at a time when the arts are under threat.

With projects ranging from a theatre piece about lockdown in the Highlands to a documentary about climate change and a music video showcasing Gaelic and Scots culture, the successful artists will cover a wide spectrum of issues affecting young people throughout the Highlands.

Highland Youth Arts Hub (HYAH), a consortium of arts organisations led by Fèis Rois, said it was acutely aware of the potential talent drain within the arts community in the Highlands because of the pandemic and launched Creative in Your Community last month. It is a fund to support and inspire young artists with their creative ambitions.

Recipients have now been announced, with each getting £1000 as well as 12 hours’ worth of mentoring from some of Scotland’s top arts professionals including Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, filmmaker Thomas Hogben, performance maker Robbie Synge, visual artist Joanne B Kaar, theatre maker Jenna Watt and writer Anne MacLeod.

Mathilde, from the Lybster area, is an actor and aspiring director. She studied art at school, winning the top prize for her near-life-size animatronic drag queen puppet. She has used the Starters at Lyth Arts Centre platform to share performances she has made.

Mathilde writes multi-layered plays that feature strong characterisation and dynamic female roles. She will be mentored by Jenna Watt.

“This funding will help develop UnCaged, which tells the story of two young people coming out of lockdown who have contrasting views on life, lockdown and art," she said. "It looks at the importance of respectful discourse leading to an understanding of one's fellow humans despite what feels like having wildly opposing views.

“I am thrilled with this opportunity and I can't wait to share my finished project with an audience.”

The other recipients are Taylor Black (19), Lochaber; Chloe Bryce (23), Tain; Ruairidh Gollan (21), Edderton; Hester Grant (25), Inverness; Rowen Henderson (17), Nairn; Jade Hutchison (20), Inverness; Iain Hyslop (20), Avoch; Ilona Kennedy (23), Kincraig; Jack Macgregor (23), Inverness; Isabel McLeish (22), Kyle of Lochalsh; Gillie O’Flaherty (18), Ullapool; Sara Oussaiden (16), Skye; Emma Ralph (22), Inverness; Jodie Sandiford (19), Grantown; Keira Smith (21), Inverness; and James Bauld (19), Dornoch.

Fiona Dalgetty, chief executive of Fèis Rois, one of the HYAH project partners, said: “At a time when the arts and cultural sectors are really suffering, it is a privilege to be able to support these incredibly talented emerging artists. The HYAH consortium was very impressed by the number, calibre and range of project ideas submitted, making the decision making much harder.

“Not only will this fund provide the crucial financial support they need in order to stay creative and realise their ideas, but it has motivated young talent in the Highlands to engage with their communities and give something back. It has provided artists with an opportunity to explore creative ideas close to their hearts and has given them focus at a time when things in the art world are very uncertain.”

Creative in Your Community was open to young artists, 16-25 years old, across the six art forms – dance, theatre, digital art/film, literature, music and visual art – who live in, or are originally from, the Highlands.

The organisations that have collaborated to deliver the project include Fèis Rois, Moniack Mhor, Eden Court, Highland Print Studio, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Lyth Arts Centre, North Lands Creative, Youth Highland and High Life Highland.

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