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Burnsong 2007, the nationwide song writing festival run by Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association, launches this week.

Created in 2004 as a six-year project aimed at encouraging a new era of songwriting in Scotland, "drawing inspiration from the spirit of Robert Burns", the project comprises a bi-annual songwriting competition.

The festival starts on Tuesday when Burnsong on Tour opens at Lochside Theatre in Castle Douglas on a six-day, six-venue whistle-stop journey around Scotland. The live show features more than 20 new songs performed by the eight artists who wrote them together.

Burns and Rivers, the annual education project for schools, starts at the same time. This is aimed at encouraging and enabling P6-S2 pupils to write songs, drawing inspiration from Burns and the natural environment.

Song-writing projects are taking place in at least 24 schools in local authorities. There is a resources pack.

The Burns Gathering, the bi-annual song writing competition, is open to people of all ages and in 2005, its first year, one of the finalists was a 12-year-old Orkney girl.

* www.burnsong.com

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