Socialist Worker

Taking arts to parts others can’t reach

Activists in Edinburgh, including Scottish Socialist Party MSP Colin Fox, have set up an Edinburgh People’s Festival to run alongside the official festival and fringe. Alister Black explains what it’s all about.

Issue No. 1913

THE EDINBURGH People’s Festival was set up two years ago by a diverse group of artists and political activists.

It was inspired by the original People’s Festival, launched in the 1950s by Hamish Henderson, the Communist writer and poet.

Hamish wanted to provide an alternative to what he saw as an elitist festival for the “Edinbourgeoisie”.

That festival ran from 1951 to 1954 before falling victim to the McCarthyism of the time. But we have now revived it.

We felt that the official festival and fringe—despite its many good points—was failing to engage with Edinburgh’s working class communities.

The Festival has become dominated by huge corporate sponsors.

Artists struggle to find audiences in the city centre, while community centres in the schemes shut.

Our first year was just one event in Craigmillar—although we did “discover” Fame Academy winner David Sneddon!

Last year saw a full week of events, which garnered a lot of publicity and started a serious debate on access to the arts.

This year we have another full week of events.

Highlights include a gig at Saughton Prison with Mark Thomas and others.

We will also be bringing Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, to Simpsons Maternity Pavilion to do a show for staff in conjunction with the hospital unions.

For more details and timetable go to here

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Article information

Sat 7 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1913
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