“The StAnza dust, about which James Harding was recently waxing so lyrical, hasn’t been allowed to settle, following the grim news about the temporary closure of the Byre theatre and the implications of this for StAnza 2013, and the good news is that alternative arrangements for ticketing and venues are almost in place.
“Early next week StAnza tickets will be on sale once again – and as proof that we don’t do anything by halves, up until the festival week there will be not only one but two outlets for tickets. Our friends at the Dundee Rep will sell StAnza tickets through their regular online box office, and in town the Visit Scotland team at 70 Market Street, St Andrews, KY16 9NU, tel. 01334 474609 will be able to sell them in person, and also by phone. In Dundee and in St Andrews both teams are working flat out and hope to be up and ready by late Monday or sometime on Tuesday next week (4th or 5th February). Full details will be available from our online Booking Page and those of you who haven’t bought tickets yet will still have a chance to snap some up before the end of the Early Bird discount period on 10th February.
“A few of the smaller events are already sold out, but there's still a handful of tickets left for the ever popular Round Table readings and workshops, so if you were thinking you’d missed the boat on them, get in there fast next week!
“The Town Hall in Queens Gardens, which has always been our secondary hub in all its Victorian Gothic grandeur, has risen to the challenge and will become this year’s primary hub. The Supper Room there, a regular StAnza venue, will be so transformed into a lively, bustling festival hub from Thursday 7th through to Sunday 10th March, that the Hall Keepers who are working flat out with us on this will hardly recognise it. Lunches, dinners and a bar will be available – including for late night jazz and open mic events – and exhibitions, projections and installations will also relocate there. The Festival Desk and Bookstall too will be found in the Supper Room, as well as this year’s StAnza Box Office. So the Supper Room will be the place to meet friends and make friends, to chill out, rev up and people-watch as poets from around the world arrive to check in at the festival.
“Upstairs, the main hall will become StAnza’s main stage. It’s not unacquainted with poetry. Though we haven’t used it recently – except for the giant knitted poem in 2011 – in StAnzas past many great poets have taken the mic there, including Roger McGough, Sharon Olds, Mark Strand and Alistair Reid. I sneaked in for a preview yesterday when the relocated Fife Jazz Festival were sound-checking. With the sun obligingly streaming through the windows and the raked seating all set up, it looked impressive indeed – and sounded wonderful! This weekend’s Jazz Festival is highly recommended, at least to anyone who doesn’t have a festival to re-arrange.
“For one night only, Wednesday 6th March for our opening events - the Festival Launch and RiverRun, a voyage through Dublin in music, visuals and poetry - thanks to support from the University of St Andrews, StAnza will relocate to the state-of-the-art new theatre in the MBSB (Medical and Biological Sciences Building) on the North Haugh. Don’t be put off by the name, it’s a stunning venue. You’ll find it on the corner, facing The Gateway across the roundabout. St Andrews locals will know not only where it is but that parking is no problem there; and we’ll have detailed directions for our audience coming from out of town, plus a guide to lead people from the Town Hall to the North Haugh where pop-ups will proclaim that StAnza has arrived.
“Just as the show is going on this weekend for the Jazz Festival, likewise the core programme for StAnza 2013 goes ahead as planned. Only one out of the 103 events planned has fallen victim to the Byre closure – the Ian Hamilton Finlay exhibition of silkscreen prints needed a special kind of gallery setting which couldn’t be found elsewhere on short notice. Of course I’m very disappointed about this but plan to bring the exhibition another year once we’re safely back in the Byre.
“Otherwise, we are still on course with everything else on the programme, albeit with many events in alternative venues. My huge thanks to all the local organisations and bodies who have this week so generously offered to re-home some of our events, even if that involves some re-organisation of their own events, and to their obliging staff who have cheerfully responded to my copious lists of queries and questions. We’ll update our online listings with details of the new venues as and when they are firmed up over the next week or so, and once everything is in place, posters giving the full details of alternative venues will appear all around St Andrews, further afield at the SPL and other places, and be downloadable from our website. However, if in doubt, just enquire during StAnza of the good folk at the Festival Desk in the Supper Room.
“We don’t have time to reprint this year’s brochure with the new venue listings, but for those who can’t get them online, we’ll have a handout available at the Festival Desk which you can consult in tandem with the brochure.
“My thanks also to my StAnza colleagues, our staff, trustees and committee members, who have responded magnificently to this challenge and provided invaluable support in a million ways. There’s such energy in St Andrews at present, made up of goodwill and constructive action directed at the Byre and at StAnza, so strong you could almost bottle it. Indeed, it's not just in St Andrews but reaching across Scotland, so I have to be confident that this will prevail and the Byre won’t be dark for long. And meantime, when the whole StAnza extended family – poets, other performers, audience, volunteers – arrives in town next month to join that mix, the effect is going to be tremendous. I look forward to seeing you there.”