Image credit - Colin Hattersley Photography

Scotland’s largest rural performing arts festival unveils 40th Anniversary programme with tribute to Scotland’s fishing communities.

Scotland celebrates the 40th Anniversary of its largest, rural performing arts festival this Summer with Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival unveiling its eclectic programme of 50 performing arts events delivering comedy, theatre, dance, music and spoken word.

The ten-day festival (24 May–2 June) launches its 40th Anniversary programme packed full of performing arts events, including UK award-winning performances, to be enjoyed in village and town halls, theatres, arts centres and pubs in almost every postcode of south west Scotland and working with new venues, Moat Brae; The Birthplace of Peter Pan and The Bridge in Dumfries.

Lost at Sea is a lyrical tribute to Scotland’s fishing communities and recognition of people’s undeniable relationship with their own coastline. The 40th Anniversary programme of Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival centres on everyday challenges and triumphs with the themes of love, loss and a sense of place woven throughout it. Written by Morna Young and directed by Ian Brown, the play features an all-Scottish cast of well-known faces including Tam Dean Burn (Outlaw Kings, River City, Moon Dogs) at the helm as the skipper.

Having worked across the creative industries for the last 15 years, the festival’s new Director, Dani Rae, an experienced cultural producer who left the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society in 2018, has returned ‘home’ to deliver this special year’s programme of Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival.

Her aim is to increase regional audiences and appeal to visitors coming from further afield, developing the well-respected charity whose aim is to encourage accessibility to high quality performing arts events in the rural economy.

Dani Rae, Director of Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, said: “It’s a real privilege to return home and programme the 40th Anniversary of Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival which has been part of the creative life blood of the region since 1979.”
“As well as the ten-day festival we work year-round delivering Arts Live, supporting venues and artists throughout the region to bring the best performing arts to our communities and encouraging them to try something new. Part of the essence and original focus of those who pioneered the very first arts festival in 1979 was to enable local communities to be able to see the highest quality shows without having to travel to the cities. I very much want Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and Arts Live to build on this legacy going forward”.

Kicking off the Festival Opening night at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries (Friday 24 May) is a powerful and poignant piece of theatre and World Premiere, Lost at Sea, presented by Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts and written by playwright Morna Young, who offers a personal tribute to the fishing communities of Scotland.

With much of Scotland being a stone’s through from a fishing community and Dumfries & Galloway having more than 200 miles of coastline, Lost at Sea shines a new and unique light on what is still the UK’s most dangerous profession at a time when fishing rights are, once again, top of the political agenda. Inspired by Morna’s loss of her own fisherman father, it explores universal themes of loss, family, community and the challenges facing traditional industries and features the voices of fishermen and their families in their own words – with music, songs and Scots language performed in the region which was home to Robert Burns.

During the High Street Take Over – Picnic at the Plainstanes (Saturday 25 May) in Dumfries, audiences will be treated to some free surprises with a spotlight on local, talented musicians and street acts programmed by the festival’s Young Promoters’ Group. On the same day in Moffat, Stellar Quines, in co-production with Imaginate, presents This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing, a contemporary fairy tale about three sisters who separate to enjoy their own adventures and follow their dreams and meet up again in later life.


The ten-day cultural feast welcomes the good doctor of folk Martin Carthy and his twice Mercury Prize-nominated daughter, Eliza (Saturday 25 and Monday 27 May) who collaborate in their uniquely charismatic and visceral style, performing in both Moffat and Newton Stewart.