Fèis a’ Bhaile, based in the City of Inverness, is now entering its 27th year of providing traditional music tuition and arts activities for young people. I personally, have only been involved in the organisation for the last two years, having taken up the role of Chairperson in 2017. Having no musical experience my role has been to organise, re-invigorate and develop the Fèis, which has always been run by a committee of volunteers.
The main activity of the Fèis, until recently has been a week long Main Fèis in October. In 2018 we introduced three Mini-Fèis Days during the summer holidays. Participant number for the initial day were low but by the third week the numbers had risen, showing us that there was a demand for them. To develop our October Fèis week we introduced a senior Fèis option to run alongside our main program of activities. This was aimed at secondary pupils and they had the opportunity to try out composition, tune arrangements, sound engineering and digital media. The aim of this was to offer something new for participants that have been attending the Fèis for a number of years and also to attract new participants in the older age group who may otherwise be put off being in classes along with much younger children.
This year we are running more Mini-Fèis Days in the Easter and Summer holidays. We are also running classes throughout the year in Ceilidh band, Gaelic Drama, Step dance and working in partnership with Inverness Trad Experience to offer weekly fiddle, accordion, guitar and mandolin tuition.
We are also actively seeking our own premises so that we can develop our annual program further. If we achieve this aim we will be able to offer more weekly classes, including keyboard and clarsach.
At our main Fèis in October we will introduce a Fèis-bheag for children in Primary 1-3 which will run alongside our main and senior Fèis meaning we can cater for children aged from four to eighteen.
We aim to develop the skills and confidence of our Ceilidh band group to a point where they feel comfortable performing in public. This will allow us to offer them performance opportunities in the local community and give them valuable playing experience while raising the profile of the Fèis. In the longer-term we would love to work towards the creation of a Ceilidh Trail.
Fèis a’ Bhaile is run by a group of volunteers and one part time, paid support worker. We are always keen for people to join us and help us to further develop our organisation. so if you are feeling inspired by our story and fancy being involved please get in touch via our contact page.
Allan Downie, Chairperson
Notes: Fèis a’ Bhaile is a member of Fèisean an Gàidheal – the umbrella organisation of the Fèis movement.