East Lothian Courier – 24 August 2023


Along with many others I attended Fringe by the Sea. I enjoyed Peat and Diesel as well as the support bands. Similarly, the local pipe band and visiting Swedish one playing in the High Street were likewise excellent.

Thanks are due to all those involved at both that festival and at other often smaller events that went on across the county this summer. They’re not easy to put together irrespective of scale yet bring so much pleasure to so many.

I’m a huge fan of live music and being able to access it locally is a real boon. The sound quality may not be as good as what you could get in your living room, but I enjoy watching musicians play and there’s an atmosphere with the crowd which technology just can’t replicate.

I’ve some pals who are professional musicians and I know how hard it is to get a break. So good luck to them but ensuring opportunities to perform is important for them and for us. The number of venues where they can performs diminishing as not just pubs and clubs close, but Churches also with their halls.

Finding venues to practice in, let alone perform in, is therefore proving hard. For pipe bands and for groups accessing halls or venues or having the funds to pay the costs is also getting harder. It’s the same challenges other organisations are facing whether they’re sporting or artistic. Public venues are fewer and the cost to use them greater than before.

It’s why access to schools, public halls and other venues is critical. They provide not just the occasional spectacle but give vibrancy to the community. It’s not trite to say they’re the hub. Yet, we’re seeing public venues lost along with private ones and it’s harming our communities. Travelling to another town or village is often either difficult or simply adds to the cost. But the loss for the community goes far beyond that.

Money is tight but keeping these public spaces open is vital not just to ensure next years fun but to keep the vibrancy of community life.