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Taking the Bait at Three Harbours Festival

Three Harbours Marches On ....

As Andrew Crummy wisecracked his way through the Three Harbours debrief on June 19th, just five days after the dust had settled on a magnificent fortnight, he sagely added he felt he sounded a tad American. Cheerleaders in the artistic throng spontaneously cried Hallelujah for him!

So the good news is that success has gone to nobody's head. Rather a profound sense of pride is overlaid by the dawning reality that even more fascinating challenges beckon for the future. Andrew confessed he has childhood flashbacks to the heady days in Craigmillar as his mother worked magic in that community. Everyone brings their own experience to the debate: Quo vadis? Barga?

There was even a Symposium during this year's Three Harbours with a good few acclaimed 'convenors' from across Scotland who talked of the futures they had faced and how they made their impacts. Comments included the suggestion that Three Harbours was a divine example of cultural planning and that what is being learnt in action here can be 'taught' to a new generation of cultural planners. May heaven protect us.

It's heuristic, not controlled - that's its elegance!

Three Harbours' evolution has been and best remains iterative, suck-it-and-see if one prefers, making it up as it rolls along. But of course there's an overaching vision behind it all perhaps best summed up as grassroots/ bottom up. No artist asks permission. They must volunteer, then seek entry to the printed 'Programme' and thereafter take responsibility for making their own art form a success - by whatever criteria they personally measure success. It might be footfalls in the thousands for a Seafood Marquee or it might be tracking down a dozen stitchers to help with a tapestry, a fateful audience in contemplation of gravestone sculpture hereabouts or Gaelic music from Lewis' herring girls. Or even to sing hymns on the quayside in Port Seton of a Sunday.

Yet from all those 'self-reliant' initiatives, which must always characterise successful art anyway, there keeps growing a larger community of the independents, swept togther by the thrill and euphoria of so much art happening is so many unusual places all at once. And then the sociology of the crowd becomes as significant as the art itself.

It was this very crowd which gathered at the debriefing and which The Goth, as the self-proclaimed hub for as much art as can find its way there, was proud to welcome.

Art has certainly been the catalyst, it has been the inner and other expression of our community's creativity, and it has been the means by which our community's sense of community, self worth and optimism for 'next year' has been crafted. Life's no' bad. Next year Three Harbours Festival will be even better.

Of course everything has a lifecycle, entropy. What goes up must come down unless it defies gravity or uses horses as the Waggonway did. Everything decays even after high maintenance. But that's for another day. As next year's 'Programme' begins to take shape in December/ January, the challenge is to relish and enjoy the upswing of this life cycle hereabouts and its community impact.

Here's one family's random itinerary in 2009: a magnificent vintage!

Church on the quayside, Auldhammer Suite in the church, paper boats in a long gone harbour, pirates at Sam Burns' yard, mural re-enactors at the pithead, sundowner music, silk painting, Tam O'Shanter or Gelie Duncan's Reel, flying kites, paellla and Gala Queens to reign amongst us!

click to enlarge the images

Published Date: July 8th 2009

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