Donald Smith receives the Hamish Henderson Award for Lifetime Service to Traditional Arts

TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) is delighted to announce that former CEO Donald Smith has been awarded the Hamish Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award for services to Traditional Music and the Arts at this year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.

The award celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to the traditional arts industry and whose services the industry can’t do without. Since 2003 it has been awarded to a vast array of talent within the Scottish traditional music industry (not necessarily musicians) including Hamish Henderson, Ian Green, Fiona Ritchie, Robbie Shepherd MBE and now, 20 years on, to Donald Smith.

Donald Smith is a founding member of the Scottish Storytelling Forum, Edinburgh’s Guid Crack Club, Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and former Chief Executive of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland). He is a natural storyteller and has been an active student of Scots and Irish storytelling for over thirty years, travelling widely in Scotland and overseas as a workshop leader, lecturer and mentor to developing storytellers. He was a pupil at Stirling High School and a student at the University of Edinburgh in the seventies, which was where he first encountered traditional storytelling as a defined artform and joined the School of Scottish Studies. From there his passion for storytelling and the arts grew, and in 1989 he set up the Scottish International Storytelling Festival one of Scotland’s flagship events and a significant part of Edinburgh’s annual cultural calendar.

Award winner Donald Smith said:

“I am amazed and delighted to receive the Hamish Henderson Award, but also in awe of his achievements. Hamish Henderson burst the dam of nay-saying and repression in Scottish life. He’s a life force who lets everyone into the flow. Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and through TRACS. There are no solo runs in this culture game. And hearty thanks to everyone behind the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards for reminding us that we’re putting our steps in the footprint of giants.”

TRACS which sponsored this year’s Community Project of the Year award, won by Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail for their ongoing support of young musicians in the trad scene, was founded in 2011 to advocate for the traditional arts. It is a co-operative network that champions traditional music, song, storytelling, dance, crafts, customs and local languages. It also celebrates the local distinctiveness of Scotland’s places: our intangible cultural heritage and is a collective voice for the Traditional Music Forum, the Scottish Storytelling Forum, and the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland.

Steve Byrne, Director of TRACS said:

“Congratulations to Fèis Rois for the fantastic community work that they do with the Ceilidh Trail, which has given so many opportunities for young musicians not just in Ross-shire but across Scotland over the past decade. The paid development opportunities they offer are a truly innovative model of how to support emerging traditional artists at a key stage in their creative lives. All the nominees this year highlight that community projects are the beating heart of the traditional arts, and we at TRACS congratulate them all on continuing to help traditional arts flourish in local areas across the country.”

Simon Thoumire, organiser of the MG ALBA Scots Trad Awards said: “I would like to  extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to making the 2023 ‘Na Trads’ such a resounding success. From the passionate audience members and all of our incredibly talented performers to everyone who voted and our generous sponsors and supporters, we truly couldn’t hold these awards without you. Congratulations to all the deserving award winners; your dedication and artistry continue to elevate and inspire the scene as a whole.

“Our 21st year has felt like a coming of age and it’s been wonderful to celebrate this milestone with those across Scotland and beyond who share our love of Scottish traditional music and its profound cultural impact. The enduring appeal of our music is heartening to see, and I’m deeply grateful to be part of this vibrant community, celebrating the rich tapestry of our musical heritage while embracing new waves of creativity.”