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International showcase of minority language arts and culture

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is to host a gathering at the end of this month which will celebrate the arts and culture of the Celtic and Europe’s other minority languages.

National and international minority language organisations from across Europe will attend ‘Tional’ between 26-28 June to showcase and discuss the work that is being done within the arts and culture of the various languages, and to encourage new projects and cooperation between the minority languages and cultures of Europe.

The conference will examine issues of tradition and innovation, network creation, language development, and the importance of cultural activity in strengthening communities and reinforcing positive identities, especially amongst young people – who will be participating creatively in many aspects of the gathering.  Delegates will also examine the role cultural activity plays in creating employment, raising skills and capacities, and establishing institutes such as SMO in this digital age.

The gathering’s keynote speech will be delivered by Finbarr Bradley, the Dublin-based economist and writer, whose  book “Capitalising on Culture, competing on Difference” argues that “ small societies and language groups like ours are strengthened, not hindered by, their uniqueness.  We should value our cultural difference as a unique and powerful economic asset.”

In addition to the lectures and discussions, those attending will have the chance to meet and form ties with artists and other organisations involved in arts and cultural projects, and it is hoped that this informal networking will lead to future collaborations between Celtic and European minority languages. Throughout the three days of the conference, various live arts performances and exhibitions will take place. These will include drama, music, ceilidhs and art exhibitions. One exhibition will feature the work of the college’s Visual Artist in Residence, photographer Alex Boyd, whose recent work has featured images which focus on the Gaelic-speaking areas of the northwest of Ireland (he intends to continue this work in a Scottish Gaelic setting whilst at SMO). Other  highlights will include an informal international cèilidh, a portrait of Skye in music and images by Arthur Cormack, Blair Douglas and Cailean Maclean, a performance by young Welsh and Irish dancers, actors and musicians from Theatr Felinfach & Án Lab, and current SMO Musician in Residence Mary Ann Kennedy’s presentation of Gaelic songs from Glasgow.    

Speaking on the upcoming conference, SMO’s Arts Development Officer, Kath MacLeod, said: “We are delighted that Tional is going to be held at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig this year, a year when we are celebrating our 40th anniversary. This is the first time that the Celtic Neighbours gathering has been held in Scotland, having been previously held in Ireland and Wales, and we are looking forward to an event where delegates from different lesser-used language cultures will have the chance to explore  opportunities to collaborate and be inspired by each other’s work.”

Meic Llewellyn form Celtic Neighbours, who are the principal organisers of Tional, said: “This is the third Celtic Neighbours gathering in six years, and each of the previous ones was immensely productive. As ever, our aim is to strengthen our native-language communities by creating and following through on cultural collaborations. That’s our way to share skills, share experiences, share aspirations and confidence – whatever the art form.  

“This time, we’re being joined by specialists from other small cultures too – Galicia, the Basque Country, Friesland and the Faroes – even Croatia.  Our over-riding aim is that new cutting-edge initiatives grow out of this event, building audiences across Europe, creating jobs and opportunities, and broadening everyone’s horizons. And could there be a more inspiring setting to work in than Sabhal Mòr Ostaig?”

The Tional gathering has received financial support from a host of organisations, led by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Creative Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Foras na Gaeilge, The Arts Councils of Wales and Ireland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

The conference will begin on Wednesday 26 June with an optional cultural tour of Skye and there are still a limited number of places available for anyone interested in attending the conference. For more information contact

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