Ashley Smith-Hammond

Your monthly round up of Scotland's cultural news. This month we get serious with a look at the sexual harassment scandal, colour-blind casting controversies and an historic apology from Scotland’s First Minister.


the phrase 'respect women' in pink chalk on black pavement
Chalk the Walk by Paul Weaver (CC BY-NC-SA 20)

The sexual harassment scandal has set social media and the press alight, focusing especially on government and culture – including sexual harassment within Creative Scotland. In the theatre sector, the FST has developed a toolkit to combat abuse and will take up the question at their next forum. Stellar Quines have launched their own social media campaign #respectis. A UK wide initiative lead by NTS alumna Vicky Featherstone has coordinated members of the theatre sector and created new codes of practice. In the visual arts sector an open letter signed by over 100 women in the global art world was published in the Guardian.

Significant new research on the overall economic contribution of the cultural and creative industries was published by Arts Council England. It features stand-out figures such as: “the arts and culture industry has grown 10% in a year, and now contributes £8.5bn to the UK economy. More than double that of the Premier League.”

The Home Office announced that it would double the number of Exceptional Talent visas available for artists (amongst others) to enter and work in the UK.


We’re keeping our eye on the Barclay Review of Non Domestic Rates, which has some serious implications for the culture and leisure sector generally, and particularly in terms of the range of arm’s length organisations now delivering these key services to communities.

Creative Scotland has warned all of its regularly funded organisations (RFOs) that it won’t announce its funding decisions for 2018-2021 grants until the end of January.

Janet Archer spoke up in the pages of the Scotsman making the case in favour of free movement of artists and creative workers between Scotland and Europe after Brexit. Scottish cultural advocacy got another boost with the launch of Culture Counts’ new website, which features handy sections to support lobbying and resources for action. Scotland’s Culture Minister and Sport Minister joined forces, writing to warn Culture Secretary Karen Bradley of the consequences following year-on-year declines in National Lottery funding.

YOYP supporter logoNext year is Scotland’s Year of Young People and dedicated programming is getting underway. The Scotsman published a summary of the events planned for #YOYP2018 so far. The EIFF and the Fringe were amongst the first to recruit young people to join specialist programming panels for next year’s festivals. New linked research from the Scottish Government shows there are some room for improvement in terms of people’s attitudes about young people. Plus, new research from Creative Scotland, How Do You Draw A Rainbow the Wrong Way?, explores the impact of arts and creativity on the lives of young people who have experienced additional challenges in life.


Bravo to Rapture Theatre Company for their robust, well-researched defence of the decision to cast black actors in a recent production of A Streetcar Named Desire after the decision came under criticism in a review. There’s a nice piece in The Conversation, which brings in additional context around race in the theatre and how this affects casting decisions.

If you missed the 2017 MGS conference, themed Inequalities: Bridging the Gap, you can catch up with all the keynotes and breakouts in their summary.


The collaborative project Theatre in Schools Scotland has involved pupils from over 150 schools across more than half of Scotland’s local authority areas, from Shetland to the Borders.

New research from VisitScotland shows a significant growth (38%) in the number of visitors to Scotland from the United States and an increase in the amount they’re spending (47%) while they’re here.

The Fringe Society’s effort to build “an unbiased and comprehensive picture” of pay and working hours at the festival was back in the news. The (full disclosure: Culture Republic-managed) research seeks input from anyone who worked at the festivals. The survey has closed now and we are currently analysing the results.

Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre has announced it will be undertaking a major redevelopment between June 2018 and autumn 2020, during which time it will be closed.

An impassioned group of Edinburghers – including celebrity alumni – look to have been successful in convincing the City of Edinburgh Council not to close the city’s music school. Similarly, New College Lanarkshire’s BA performing arts degrees is under threat, but local activists are working to save it. So far, more than 7,000 people have signed a petition to save the degree.

Unhappily an independent Scottish publisher, Freight Books, went into liquidation in October.


Dundee’s bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023 was officially submitted at the end of October. The city is in the running against Belfast and Derry, Milton Keynes, Leeds and Nottingham. Meanwhile, the V&A offered a sneak peek of the objects that will be featured in its Dundee-based Scottish design galleries and the city was anointed one of the Wall Street Journal’s top ten hot destinations.


Next week, the clever clogs at the Scottish Book Trust will run a virtual festival as part of Book Week Scotland featuring a range of free, digital events that anyone, anywhere can take part in.

There’s some great resources for events and venues seeking to reach tourists from VisitScotland’s new Digital Tourism Scotland training resource.

A new app called LitLong guides users around Edinburgh to over one-thousand locations around the city and feeds them book excerpts for each place on the map.


colourful gif of a lightbulb glowing
Light gif by Bill Smith (CC BY 2.0)

Queen Margaret University is collaborating with Festival City Theatres Trust. The theatre will host teaching sessions, workshops, theatre rehearsals and community theatre projects. Students will be able to gain work experience through internships, research projects and community engagement opportunities.

The Touring Network, a resource that links promoters, venues and performers, is planning a relaunch of their successful Epic Stage campaign. As part of the lead up they flagged advice from Culture Republic (thankyouverymuch!) around removing barriers for ecotourists in rural Scotland.

Five Scottish councils are taking part in the new One Card scheme, giving users access to library collections across Scotland. The idea is to encourage greater access to libraries by removing barriers between services.

Scottish Opera’s new campaign aims to bring more informality to opera audiences saying: “You don’t have to dress up for the opera. Dress up, dress down, it’s up to you.”

ATG theatres have launched a Local Heroes campaign targeting those professionals working to support their community. It offers 2-4-1 tickets to people working in emergency services, the NHS, armed forces, lifeboats, social care workers, prison officers and teachers.

For DIY researchers, Creative Scotland published Is this the best it can be?, a new toolkit that can be used by anyone delivering arts and creative learning through collaborative or participatory projects and programmes. Similarly, Europeana have published The Impact Playbook to help cultural venues and projects measure their impact to audiences. Get a baseline on the Scottish population from the NRS’ newly published projected population figures.


The List’s annual Hot 100 has a number of friends from the cultural sector gaining recognition including: Inverleith House; Craft Scotland; the Lyceum’s David Greig; HippFest; SWG3; Edinburgh Festival Fringe; Bloody Scotland; Glasgow & Edinburgh International Film Festivals; Glasgow Women’s Library; Hidden Door; Paisley City of Culture; Scottish Ballet; SQIFF; NTS/Jackie Wylie. Congratulations all!

Dumfermline’s Carnegie Library & Galleries, recently refurbished and reopened has won Best Building in Scotland for 2017 from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland’s (RIAS).

The shortlist is out for the Creative Edinburgh Awards. Nominees include: Leith Theatre and the Hidden Door Festival. Good luck to everyone for the ceremony this Friday!

Congratulations Perth Theatre! The brand new building opened its doors in late November and will host its first audiences for this year’s panto.


  • John Durnin will step down as Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director at the end of this year.
  • Scotland’s Makar, Jackie Kay, will take up a residency at Young Scot in 2018 as part of the Year of Young People celebrations.
  • Fergus Linehan has had his contract extended at Edinburgh International Festival and will stay with the organisation until 2022.
  • Ruth Mackenzie has been appointed to lead the Shetland Amenity Trust, which runs Shetland Museum and Archives.
  • Mairi McFadyen will join the leadership team at Local Voices.
  • Scottish theatre said goodbye to Sandy Neilson, who sadly passed away in late October.
  • Jackie Shearer will leave the Beacon to develop a new cultural and community venue in Glasgow.


The Edinburgh Tourism Innovation Challenge offers up to £3k for innovative data-driven tourism projects. Edinburgh-based organisations can also compete for up to £10k from the Local Events Fund. Local performers can also apply for one of two artist development programmes from Summerhall taking applications now. Crafts people can put themselves forward for inclusion in the inaugural Craft Biennale Scotland.

Museums Galleries Scotland, with partners from across the UK, are looking into how the current Museum Accreditation scheme is and isn’t working for users. If you have opinions you’ll find the survey to respond online.

Euan’s Guide – the excellent crowdsourced disability access reviews site – are running their annual Access Survey to reveal what disabled people, their friends and families think about the standard of disabled access today.


Scotland’s First Minister offered an official apology to those who were convicted of same-sex sexual activity. This was in conjunction with the Scottish Parliament’s publication of the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill.

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Main image credit: Gathering of the flags prepared as a header by Tom Donald (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)