Festival History and Background
Robert McLellan was the most important Scottish dramatist and short story writer to work in living Scots in the twentieth century and his influence on the world of Scottish writing has been crucial.
McLellan spent most of his working life on Arran and in 2004, the Arran Theatre and Arts Trust decided to honour his contribution to Scottish culture by instigating a festival which would raise awareness and celebrate McLellan's work as well as encourage new work in his name with the aim of celebrating the centenary of McLellan's birth in 2007.
This centenary festival, amonst other things, commissioned visual art on the subject of McLellan's work, music from John Maxwell Geddes, a production by Borderline Theatre in partnership with the Arran community of McLellan's most famous play, “Jamie the Saxt” and established a national poetry and play writing competition. Another element of this celebration was to begin the arduous task of having McLellan's collected works published – something which had been neglected during his lifetime. ( This has been achieved. “Playing Scotland's Story” Luath Press 2015)
The success of the centenary festival was such that the decision was made to continue which it has done every year since then. The Poetry Competition has thrived and now attracts entries from all over the world. The play competiton is in abeyance at the moment because of financial constraints but it is the desire of Arran Theatre and Arts to continue that sometime in the future.
The festival focuses currently on poetry, music, film and drama as well as providing workshops for adults and young people in these areas.
The McLellan Arts Festival is an opportunity to create new work as well as share what Arran has to offer to its community and to Scotland.