Drama teacher’s passionate plea strikes a chord

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A Kinlochleven drama teacher’s passionate call for greater promotion of the arts in Lochaber has racked up thousands of views.

Ilona Munro Lawson said she is ‘a bit surprised’ by the reaction to the video she posted on social media last week in which she called for greater promotion, support and connectivity within arts groups in Lochaber.

Her video appeal, which has been viewed by almost 6,ooo people, has ignited interest and discussions among art and music groups which she hopes can be turned into action.

Ilona in action on stage. NO F32 Drama Lawson 02. Photo: Chaz Stewart.

Speaking to the Lochaber Times about why she launched the appeal, Ilona said she thought it was ‘time to put a dream into reality’ and called on people in the community to make a ‘connected effort’ to develop the arts in the region.

‘I’ve just thought in the last two years there was a growing feeling that we need to shout a little more about the arts in Lochaber.

‘There’s no dedicated arts centre here which means we miss out on things. There’s plenty of community stuff going on but we lack a place where these things can be expanded.’

Ilona Munro Lawson has been a drama teacher in Lochaber for 20 years. NO F32 Drama Lawson 03

Since she posted the video, Ilona has been in discussions with groups in the area keen to support her efforts in creating a more cohesive arts movement and outlet for talent.

A number of her former students, who are now working full-time as performers, have also offered their support.

‘We keep getting told there’s no interest in theatre, art or music here but without a regular venue or events it’s hard to get the audience,’ she continued.

‘Many of us are singing from the same hymn sheet but we need a connected effort to bring good work into the area but also get our work out there.’

The mother-of-two, a  drama worker with Eden Court in Inverness for 15 years, said she was taken aback by the community’s reaction to her video.

‘I’ve been surprised by the reaction. I thought the usual suspects would help out but I didn’t expect to get so many views, shares and comments, especially from people who used to live here but are keen to help.

‘It’s just about having these conversations and we have had such a big response.’

Now a freelance based at Kinlochleven High School, Ilona has helped establish a new Theatre Lochaber committee and a network for performers, artists and musicians called Arts Love Lochaber.