Festival pleads for volunteers

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POPULAR arts festival Celebrate Linlithgow may become history if volunteers do not come forward.

The event has run every October for the past six years after it was started by Hetty Smyth, who owned Blast Off Books, and councillor Tom Conn.

It is now co-ordinated by the Linlithgow Community Arts Association but two of the key members are resigning and volunteers are needed to step up.

John Aitken is secretary of Linlithgow Community Arts Association and he plans to stand down along with treasurer Jon Newey.

John said: “It’s more than two years since Jon and I announced that we wanted to stand down.

‘‘We have both done an extra year and we both mean it when we say that it’s time for others to come forward to do the work.

‘‘If sufficient people are not nominated as committee members then LCAA will not be able to continue and ‘Celebrate Linlithgow’ will not take place in 2012.”

He added that he would continue to maintain the website and prepare the printed programme but would not continue as secretary.

A meeting has been organised for July 10 at 7.30pm in the canal tea room in the hope that volunteers will come forward.

John added: “The meeting can either appoint new officers and committee members, agree to mothball the organisation until people come forward to revive it, or close it down entirely.”

The annual festival has traditionally been organised by local residents and last year the programme included a literary lunch, plays and wine, a ghost walk at Linlithgow Palace, Scottish Opera from Linlithgow Arts Guild, a French film night, folk music sessions and fundraisers.

Professionals and enthusiastic amateurs of all ages take part and it showcases the arts on offer in the town.

But the LCAA has had very little positive response to the appeal to keep the festival going, and it is on a tight deadline as the festival programme needs to be finalised in July and produced in August for distribution early in September.

LCAA is also eligible to apply for a Creative Scotland “Creative Places” award of up to £100,000 for promoting arts events in the community, and an award could be used to fund the production and distribution of an ongoing “what’s on” brochure listing events of all of the clubs and societies in the town.

Councillor Tom Conn, who is chairman of Celebrate Linlithgow said: “Both John and Jon will be a big miss for the festival.

‘‘John was instrumental in organising and chasing up acts while Jon was very successful in managing to source funding to help promote the festival.

‘‘They will be a big void in the committee but we are appealing to local people to come forward to assist if they wish to see the festival flourish.

“Celebrate Linlithgow is not a committee appointed to tell local groups what to do, it’s more about assisting local groups to stage events and help promote them under the one umbrella.

“We would be keen to hear from anyone who is a good organiser or even someone who has fresh ideas and who may even want to take the festival in a different direction.”

Tom added that the committee meets around once every two months but in the run up to the festival meetings are more regular.