THE Perth Festival of the Arts will be 47 years young when its packed 10 days happen in May of this year. The fine folk who create it are already thinking about how to mark their event’s half-century in 2021 with special programming. The point to note is that it is an established part of the Scottish cultural calendar.

As I have mentioned in this space, or one like it, in the past, Perth Festival both preceded and has outlasted Glasgow’s Mayfest and now includes many of exactly the sort of popular culture events that drew audiences in the Dear Green Place.

They are pragmatic souls, the Perth Festival people. So when the new Concert Hall was built in Perth they embraced all its capabilities in a way that was rarely the case during the rest of the year. When Perth Theatre closed for refurbishment, they uncovered the orchestra pit that was part of the spec for the new hall and installed regular visitors English Touring Opera (ETO) in the new venue.

That was such a success that the company has stayed there for its performance of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro on May 17 this year. With the refurbished Perth Theatre now reopened, the festival’s 2018 programme has made sure to make full use of it as well, starting with Rossini arias from ETO and including a veritable palace of varieties that encompasses Ruby Wax, Rev Richard Coles, Val McDermid being grilled by Fred MacAulay, an Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise show, and a recital by local teacher-turned-operatic baritone Donald Maxwell.

When Maxwell decided it was time to give his larynx a rest after a final home-town show, he surely little expected, however, that he would be competing for an audience with Nigel Kennedy, Danielle de Niese, Evelyn Glennie and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Not to mention Jamie Cullum, Tommy Smith’s Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Karine Polwart and Eddi Reader. However, as part of the BBC’s Biggest Weekend those are the acts on the bill the same evening at nearby Scone Palace, home of the Rewind Festival later in the summer. When the broadcasting corporation decided to locate the Scottish element of its UK-wide event (Belfast, Swansea and Coventry are also involved), clearly no-one thought to look at what usually happened in Perth in the middle of May. The clash with Maxwell’s concert is not the half of it (and probably the least – I’ll wager that many of the faithful will chose to bid him a fond farewell, not least because Perth Festival had that same Nigel Kennedy at the Concert Hall just last year).

Perth Festival of the Arts began as a classical music event and still has that at its core, so the event’s closing concert, on the day after the Maxwell vs Kennedy bout, has the Dresden Philharmonic under Michael Sanderling play the Fifth Symphony of Shostakovich, and joined by soloist Jennifer Pike for the Bruch Violin Concerto. That’s as enticing a programme as you’d wish, and naturally the festival committee are hoping the BBC’s big bash won’t harm ticket sales.

For another established part of their formula, however, Perth bit the bullet when the high-handed action of the Beeb came to light. Often in partnership with the promoters DF Concerts, better known for T in the Park, TRNSMT and King Tut’s, the festival has in recent years boasted a high profile rock gig: The Proclaimers, KT Tunstall and Justin Currie played in the past three years. But with the second day of the BBC’s Scone Palace extravaganza featuring Noel Gallagher, Simple Minds, Emeli Sande and Squeeze, discretion seemed the better part of box office valour, so that aspect of this year’s Perth programme has been posted missing.

To be clear, the fair-minded festival folk are not moaning about this, saying the BBC have apologised for failing to appreciate the scale of their event, and are now working with them to make sure that those who go to Scone know what else they could be catching while they are in the area. But if Perth Festival is not huffily berating the Johnny-come-latelies at the BBC, that means the door has been left open for supporters, like me, to do so on its behalf.