Selkirk festival organisers say YES to Susan as fundraising takes centre stage

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THE team of professional artists creating Selkirk’s first contemporary arts festival next year have announced their new project development officer as Susan Garnsworthy.

“We’re delighted that Susan accepted the challenge. Out of a strong set of candidates, she was top of our wish list,” said Midlem architect Lawrence Robertson, who is one of the seven directors behind Selkirk’s YES Festival.

The advertised role attracted 23 candidates last month, and the steering group interviewed a shortlist of six in early December before selecting Ms Garnsworthy, a creative and cultural business consultant from the Forest of Ae in Dumfries & Galloway.

She brings experience in raising funds, and organising arts festivals both locally and nationally.

“She has terrific experience. She’s been very successful in what she’s done, and she understands what we’re trying to do,” said Mr Robertson.

The biannual YES festival – which stands for Yarrow, Ettrick and Selkirk – will host a four-day a programme of events in September 2013 focusing on three strands of contemporary arts: live performance, visual art and the spoken word.

“We want to celebrate the arts in all their forms in Selkirk and the valleys,” enthused Jenna Agate, another steering group member who is a dance artist based at The Studio On The Green in Selkirk, adding: “There’s such a lot of artistic activity going on, both quietly and in the open, and it would be great to celebrate it. People are already getting very excited.”

The new £7,700 job, composed of 65 days of work at £120 a day, is being funded by Awards For All, which gave a £9,955 lottery grant to Selkirk’s YES festival.

But one of Ms Garnsworthy’s first jobs will be to raise more funding to turn the group’s ideas for the programme into reality – and we’re told she’s already well on the case.

“I’ve started a fundraising plan,” she said.

She added: “The group have a lot of ideas and they need support to translate them into reality.

“It’s a good group, with a diverse range of skills and experience. We want to get local people who want to do things involved, and find ways to engage young people in Selkirk.”

Ms Garnsworthy, a self-described “Jill of all trades”, achieved success in October this year with the first Creative Mackintosh Festival at Glasgow School of Art, which she helped find sponsorship for and organise, from a standing start in only 15 months. For many years she has also volunteered to help organise the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival.