Organisers of Scotland’s international poetry festival in St Andrews have hailed this year’s event as one of the most successful ever.
The StAnza festival drew to a close at the weekend following five days of more than 100 events including performances, readings, music, drama, talks, workshops and a masterclass, open mic events, films, exhibitions and installations involving over 90 artists and thousands of visitors.
And now that the 20th StAnza has been consigned to the history books, those behind the spectacular are already looking ahead to 2018’s programme.
“StAnza 2017 was always going to be a huge year for us, being our 20th festival, so we’re absolutely thrilled it was such a wonderful success,” festival director Eleanor Livingstone said.
“This year forms part of our StAnza 20:20 Vision project which marks our 20th festival in 2017 and our 20th anniversary next year.
“We look forward to reflecting on the highlights of this festival before taking on the challenge of creating a programme for 2018 which will not only match, but exceed what we achieved this week to befit such an exciting milestone.”
The festival was officially opened by StAnza’s special guest, traditional Scottish singer Sheena Wellington, who performed at the very first StAnza back in 1998.
Guests enjoyed readings by Aurella Lassaque and Sasha Dugdale as well as a performance by the St Andrews University Scholarship Brass Ensemble, while this year’s opening night performance was John Agard’s one-man show Roll Over Atlantic, a tale of the notorious New World Enterprise of Christopher Columbus re-imagined in verse and song.
Among the highlights of this year’s programme were the Poetry Centre Stage events which featured some of the biggest names in the literary world including Costa Poetry Book prize winner Alice Oswald; Kathleen Jamie, winner of the Saltire Book of the Year award; T.S Eliot winner Sarah Howe; and Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay.
Such was the popularity of these events they were live streamed from the Byre Theatre’s Auditorium to increase capacity.
Other big names to perform at StAnza included Vahni Capildeo, Patience Agbabi, Jim Carruth, Stephen Watt, A.B. Jackson, and Robert Crawford.
Ms Livingstone described attendances at this year’s StAnza as “excellent”, confirming that many of the events had sold out well in advance of the festival opening.
“While it’s too early to give exact visitor numbers we are confident we will have exceeded expectations, adding to the success of StAnza 2017,” she added.
“This has been a fantastic festival and as ever we’re sad to be packing up for another year but delighted to be ending on such a high.”
The festival is funded by Creative Scotland, EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate and Fife Council, with support from the University of St Andrews.
Stuart Turner, head of EventScotland, praised all those involved.
He concluded: “Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and Eleanor and the team should be congratulated on delivering another fantastic programme.
“I know we are all looking forward to seeing the event develop in years to come.”