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Trust no longer able to support vital Project Co-ordinator & Festival Director role

12 Apr 23
by Nathon Jones

Introducing acts in the Festival Marquee in 2019

With funding cut for the annual traditional music festivals and the recent closure of the music tuition and youth group projects at The Vault Arts Centre, the Trust continues to make cutbacks to ensure its survival, but the loss of its only member of staff will have a significant negative impact.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees on 27th March 2023, and following an incredible gesture from Project Co-ordinator & Festival Director Nathon Jones, it was agreed that the role could continue on a voluntary basis whilst alternative funding is sought, however all agreed that this was/is far from ideal.

It's another desperate blow for the organisation and for the local economy, with a job lost and the inevitable reduction in arts, culture and heritage events in mid-Galloway.

Project Co-ordinator & Festival Director Nathon Jones said "I founded Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival in 2014 and worked on that project, on a voluntary basis, for 5 years with the support of my family, a team of amazing local volunteers, music & dance enthusiasts and members of the community, all of us with a vision to create something new and different in the town, to boost the local economy and generally just do something positive for the region."

"In 2019 the charity managed to secure funding to support my role on a part-time basis and, in the same year, took on the lease of the former RBS premises on Victoria Street, lovingly restoring it from its boarded-up and run-down condition to what is now one of the region's best live music/performing arts venues."

"The Vault Arts Centre is a finalist in two categories at this year's Scottish Entertainment & Hospitality Awards - Best Event Venue and Best Entertainment Venue - and the charity's flagship annual event, Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival, was a finalist at the national MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards last year for 'Event of the Year' (sponsored by VisitScotland).  These are incredible achievements for a small, independent, music venue and charity in Dumfries & Galloway."

"The Vault Arts Centre not only supported my role but employed 6 sessional bar staff, 4 sound engineers, 1 cleaner and over 140 performing artists last year so it's vital that this work continues, but it's difficult to know what else the charity could do to evidence how important The Vault Arts Centre and the four annual music festivals the charity runs are to the local economy, not to mention the social and cultural impact they're having."

A series of fundraising events throughout the year are currently being planned as well as the continual search for new funding opportunities.


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The 10th annual Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival takes place over the 12th-14th July 2024. It's an incredible achievement. The charity has created a viable, sustainable, event that continues to grow and develop, proudly celebrating the very best in traditional Scottish, Irish and World music. Make sure you book early for what is shaping up to be the biggest event yet!

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