In celebration of The Touring Network’s 20th Birthday, we have been putting a spotlight on our members, the people who passionately graft behind the scenes to make our region a better place to live and work through putting on shows in their local communities. Each interview will culminate with an #EPICSTAGESTORY.  To share yours read here

Keren Easdale Easdale Community Hall Easdale Island


Meet Keren Cafferty, Owner of The Puffin Bar & Restaurant on Easdale Island as well as arts co-ordinator for Easdale Island Community Hall. Read on to hear about her, her community and of course her #EPICSTAGESTORY

Hello, pleased to meet you, where do you live and what venue(s) are you involved with? 

I live on Easdale Island on the west coast of Scotland and I am currently the arts co-ordinator for Easdale Island Community Hall.

How long have you been involved with promoting there? 

In various ways for around 10 years. I was chair, for 8 years, of the community development group and charity who own and run the hall on behalf of community and after stepping down from the board of directors I have taken over helping to co-ordinate the arts programme and applying for funding.

And how long have you been a member of The Touring Network? (approx) 

About 5 years I think.

Do you work as a promoter group or fly solo? 

There’s two of us who organise the events and programme, submit funding applications etc but a whole raft of other volunteers helping to run the events, market gigs etc and look after the hall.

And what is / was your main job? 

My main job is running my own business on the island (The Puffer Bar & Restaurant). Everything else is voluntary and includes finding suitable artists/gigs/events, book them, co-ordinate and apply for suitable funding….sounds simple on paper 😉

How long have you lived there?

We’ve been here for 12 years having moved from Edinburgh in 2006

What attracted you/your family to that area?

Easdale is so unique and really special. Once you visit it gets into your soul and you never want to leave! When you do leave you can’t wait to get back!

How do you decide whether or not to book a performer? 

We don’t really have a set criteria and every gig is different. We have had to adapt drastically in the last few years due to more competitive funding rounds. We try to introduce new art forms each year to keep things evolving and we try to offer something for everyone as we have very diverse audiences. It’s also good to offer some unique or unusual events to capture peoples imaginations.

What types of performances tend to go down the best? 

We love to dance here so bands that get your feet tapping are always a winner! Last year we had Tide Lines and Peatbog Faeries which both sold out.

What challenges do you have as a rural promoter – go-on, any bugbears you want to get off your chest 🙂 ?

Our biggest challenge is volunteer fatigue. Our community development has been very successful over the last 20 years or so but the community is tiny (66 residents) and it tends to be the same folk stepping up to the mark to ensure everything we’ve built keeps going. People are also very quick to judge if an event is not as popular as we thought it might be but if people don’t make the effort and get involved then we will lose momentum. Marketing and advertising gigs is never easy and requires a huge amount of resources and effort.

What do you hope for a performer to take away after having performed at your venue? 

Easdale Island hall is magical. The island and venue have an interesting history and the hall’s design is unique. It has great acoustics and even the journey to get here is unusual. The hall provides every performer with a very intimate interaction with their audience

Give us a local must see/do/dining tip for any visiting performer or audience?

Well as I own The Puffer Bar & Restaurant on the island I’m a little biased but would definitely recommend a pint in the Puffer Bar either before or after the show. We serve the finest local seafood too so dinner is always good. Just remember to book as its always busy especially on event nights. If its a nice day bring your swimming gear and head round the back of the island to the flooded pools which were once slate quarries. Perfect on a hot day!

Give us a little known pop fact about your venue / area / living rurally 🙂

Easdale is the centre of the universe! No matter where you go in the world you always seem to meet someone who knows someone from Easdale, used to live there or has some connection to the island. We also host the World Stone Skimming Championships!

Tell us, how do you advertise performances to your audiences? 

Posters distributed locally, Oban FM, Oban Times, website and mailchimp, Social media – facebook and twitter

What’s your favourite venue to see a performance in and why (outside of your own)? 

I love going to the Hydro in Glasgow.

If you could programme anyone in the world, sky’s the limit. Who would it be and why? 

​ RUSH because they are just amazing live!​

Finally, tell us your #epicstagestory* 

For me getting Peatbog Faeries here last year was a personal achievement. Our programme of events has always run from Easter to end of September but we took the decision at the beginning of last year to try and extend into October. I happened to see Peatbogs were touring in October and thought what the heck and contacted their management. When I asked about fees I was pretty sure they would be out of our price range (our capacity is only 150) and I was right. Not only that we also couldn’t meet their lighting spec which is such a major part of their show. Despite all this the guys were really keen to come and play here so we were able to strike a deal with them. The gig sold out completely and it was fantastic. The hall was bouncing and it was a really good bit of publicity for the community. For me it shows despite our size and location our wee venue does have enormous appeal to both artists and audiences. You just have to go for it!


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