Islay and the rest of the Highlands and Islands are facing a “calamitous” fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, one of Scotland’s leading historians has warned.
Speaking to The Ileach ahead of his participation in this year’s online Islay Book Festival, Professor Jim Hunter said the collapse of tourism under lockdown underlined the need for new thinking on how to diversify island economies and unlock their full potential.
Angus MacKinnon previews this month’s online Islay Book Festival.
Scots Makar Jackie Kay has agreed to open this month’s Islay Book Festival in a welcome filip for the event, which is being held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alexander McCall Smith, the bestselling author famed for his uplifting storytelling and optimistic view of the world, will also help deliver a literary tonic for troubled times.
The big names’ support was described as ‘fabulous news’ by festival chair Isla Rosser-Owen. ‘Alexander McCall Smith is a global bestseller and Jackie always has something insightful and interesting to say. We’re really looking forward to hosting them and of course all the other writers taking part in our first digital festival.’
Real-time poetry writing with Kornel Kossuth, a children’s ‘How to Draw a Dragon’ session with Kate Leiper, and music from Islay Sessions regular Gráinne Brady and The Bookshop Band are also on the menu for the 27–30 August event.
Our chair, Isla Rosser-Owen, introduces this year’s digifest, which she calls “our own unique, informal Hebridean offering to the digital landscape”. As well as highlighting some of the events she’s most looking forward to, Isla also talks a bit about why we decided to go digital this year, saying that “just because we’re a small festival on an island off the south-west coast of Scotland does not mean that we don’t have a valid contribution [to make], it does not mean that we can’t have a seat at the digital table too”.
Watch the full announcement below, and while you’re at it, please do subscribe to our YouTube channel!
All of us on the Islay Book Festival committee are very sorry to announce that we won’t be holding a physical festival this year.
We had been hoping that the situation might have improved enough by the end of August to allow us to hold this year’s event as planned, but due to the current lockdown we have found it increasingly difficult to progress with our planning in the meantime and, more importantly, we do not want to be the cause of any additional risk to the health of our volunteers or the island communities in which we operate over the next few months.