Our programming themes for 2015 and 2016 – ‘Between the Lines’ and ‘Beyond the Borders’ respectively – have been chosen to help us to focus on cultural identities in their many forms and how these are expressed through the arts.

How can distinct cultures preserve and develop their own artistic traditions whilst still being open and inclusive of new ideas and cross-cultural sharing?

How and why do some cultures come to define themselves in sympathy with, or opposition to, another?

What do we, as Scots, share with other artistic cultures and where do we see cultural clashes?

We will consider the potential, and the tension, of having multiple artistic and cultural identities, and how each can be preserved without the exclusion of others. We will also be thinking about cultural and artistic identities which are stigmatised or suppressed as a result of social or political pressures, particularly looking at how this impacts on the freedom of artists, and therefore art-forms, to move across the globe (an issue which affected Solas Festival directly last year, when our headline act was denied a visa to enter the country).

The programme will see us showcasing multiple and moving artistic identities – from the travellers of the Scottish Highlands, to the displaced people of Palestine and Western Sahara – and will be an exploration of identity, looking at what separates us and what brings us together in art, music, and life, and delving into the stories and the subtexts of how identities form and transform along different lines. And all, of course, within the context of the wider Solas Festival ethos which seeks to blur the boundaries between artists and audiences, and to encourage seamless movement between our stages, and our open, green gathering spaces.