A 'JAM-PACKED' Borders arts festival has received a major cash boost from the National Lottery.

DunsPlayFest takes place in Duns' volunteer hall across nine days, starting on April 26.

The drama festival will feature more than 60 events including play premieres, rehearsed readings and educational workshops, presented by both professional and community theatre-makers.

And the event has been backed by £20,000 in the latest round of Creative Scotland's Open Fund awards.

Festival director John McEwen said: "With festival favourites like Tom Murray, Clare Prenton and Robert Sproul-Cran set to return this year, the programme will have familiar elements while being, as ever, completely unpredictable and exciting, jam-packed with new voices, exquisite musicianship, conviviality, joy, child-friendly performances, comedy, searing drama and playfulness.

"Make a date in your diary for one of the weeks in the Scottish theatrical year. DunsPlayFest – an exultation of the possible!"

As well as the festival week, there is a year-round workshop and mentoring programme designed to build skills and confidence in theatre-making for young people with a particular focus on those struggling with their mental health.

Also in the Borders, Galashiels venue MacArts is taking part in Independent Venue Week, with an exclusive performance from Brooke Combe on Wednesday (January 31).

The nationwide event is a seven-day celebration of independent music and arts venues.

Shortlisted for this year’s Scottish Album of the Year Awards with her mixtape Black Is The New Gold, Combe is on the verge of big things with her debut studio album releasing this year.

Combe said: “I’d never played a gig before and found myself signing the dotted line during lockdown. My first ever gig sold out and, from there, I continue to make my way through all the different venues in all the cities in the UK.

"The live element has been the biggest part of my journey as I’ve learned the art of performing, gaining more confidence and focusing on my musicality.

"I feel I’m definitely a better person for channelling my emotions through music and gigging. I’m made up to be a part of Independent Venue Week as I’m a live artist, and constantly want to develop this side of my career and play as many venues as I can.”

These Borders projects are two of 54 taking place across Scotland receiving support totalling £815,734, in this round of the Open Fund.

Interim director of arts at Creative Scotland Paul Burns said: “The exciting projects which have been awarded National Lottery funds in the latest round of the Open Fund exemplify how vital these awards are for culture across the country. We are thrilled to be able to support these organisations and individuals, including so many who are deeply focused in their local area and enriching their community. This work allows us all the opportunity to have access to quality art and culture in our local spaces, and to share stories with one another that connect us in unique ways."