Ashley Smith-Hammond

In June, our monthly round-up looks at great practice from arts and cultural organisations connecting with Scottish audiences and the wider issues that could affect your business.


There’s loads to learn from the great practice that’s taking place around the country. Check out the good work of our partners that we’ve noticed this month.

Partners, we see you. Image via GIPHY.

“We wouldn’t be the people we are today”. A partnership between Castlebrae High School and Drake Music Scotland had a significant impact on a group of students with additional support needs. They formed a band, composed their own songs, performed live at the Queen’s Hall and released a charity single.

Four of Scotland’s youth performance companies are coming together for a collaborative performance. The National Youth Choir of Scotland, National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, Scottish Youth Theatre and YDance (Scottish Youth Dance) will come together for Tell Us Who We Are, which will be performed as part of this summer’s Festival 2018 in Glasgow, the cultural programme aligned with the European Games.

And speaking of collaborations, the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) is bringing a range of partnerships together for their opening concert. Five Telegrams will celebrate the centenary of the First World War as part of 14-18 Now as well as Scotland’s 2018 Year of Young People with a newly convened youth choir and a new orchestral commission drawing on archival materials from the Imperial War Museum. The piece will open both the BBC Proms in July and the Edinburgh International Festival in August.

A new course called Modual will run this summer for students from the University of the Arts London, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Glasgow School of Art. Students will learn digital, entrepreneurial and collaborative skills to develop new start-up social enterprise projects with support from industry experts including Kickstarter Europe.

Glasgow Life hosts a whole library of D/deaf accessible introductory videos to all of its museums in both British Sign Language (BSL) and International Sign Language (ISL).

The National Galleries will offer free dedicated holiday programming for families looking to get out and play this summer. There will be a pop-up play area available on the grounds and family workshops every afternoon. The Galleries also rebooted their podcast The Work of Art with three new episodes that dropped in May.

Platform recently brought art and sport together by hosting a live World Cup match screening with improvised jazz accompaniment from Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and guest musicians. A great example innovative programming reaching out to new arts audiences.

Stellar Quines have launched a new participation scheme inviting audiences to share their thoughts and feelings in a letter to a woman activist that has been an inspiration to them. Producers will read through the submissions and choose one to be performed by a professional actor, filmed and shared on the company’s website and social media.

The Scottish Poetry Library took walkers, readers and writers outside for a guided hill walk and workshop on writing about nature and place.

The National Theatre of Scotland are inviting young people to make a new piece of dance theatre work in partnership with international artists as part of a new festival of international performing arts, Futureproof.


Joanna Baker will step down from her post as Managing Director at the EIF at the end of this year.

Leonie Bell, who was seconded from Creative Scotland to lead on the Scottish Government’s National Cultural Strategy, will take up a new post with Renfrewshire Council to build on the momentum of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 and lead the next stage of the town’s ongoing transformation into a vibrant cultural destination.

Creative Scotland has appointed Isabel Davis as Executive Director, to lead the delivery of Scotland’s new Screen Unit.

Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling have appointed Petre Dobre as Scotland’s first British Sign Language (BSL) Director Trainee.

Sam Gough will leave his previous post at Summerhall and join Glasgow’s Tron Theatre as Executive Director replacing Lesley Renton.

After 10 years of service, Richard Holloway is stepping down from his role as Chair of Sistema Scotland.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh was awarded International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Applause award for gender parity in its playwrights.

Underbelly’s Hogmanay festival reported a significant increase in visitors and economic impact for 2017.

The Sunday Herald Culture Award nominations are out and lots of our partners have been singled out: Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Aberdeen Performing Arts’ True North Festival, Glasgow Life’s Aye Write!, Wee Write! and Celtic Connections Festivals, the Wigtown Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Glasgow Film Festival, National Theatre of Scotland, and Renfrewshire Council.

Congratulations Scottish Ballet, winners of Marketing Society Scotland’s Star Award.

Well done to all of the winners at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS), including our partners the Edinburgh International Festival, Lyceum, Horsecross, Beacon Arts Centre and Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

And finally, if you agree that this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival identity is beautiful you will want to read this Design Week profile of the design ideas underpinning them.



Cultural Policy

The Scottish Government have released a draft Culture Strategy for Scotland, which is now open for consultation.

What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
The cultural strategy will be a guide for policy going forward. It outlines what the Scottish Government sees as the arts and cultural sector’s wider value and the type of outcomes it hopes to see from government funding.


We were sad to learn earlier this month that NVA will be shutting its doors. Joyce McMillian’s recent appreciation and look back is worth a read to remember some of the brilliant work over the past 20 years.

What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
It’s a real loss as NVA have been behind some of the hugely ambitious and innovative participation projects in Scotland. The company’s most recent project to resuscitate St Peter’s seminary has been shelved.


Unbelievably, Glasgow School of Art’s iconic Macintosh Building caught fire again, just as the refurbishment efforts were nearing completion.

What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
The GSA’s signature building has long inspired lovers of visual art, design and architecture. The best case scenario means a much longer wait until visitors and students can re-experience the classic building. This fire was worse than the last one so it’s possible, if the costs are too high to attempt a second rebuild, the building may be lost to future generations.


Creative Scotland took more criticism in June from Scottish Government ministers who said the funding system fell “well below” the standard expected of a public body. Creative Scotland has shared an initial response promising an independent review. The letter also defended staff members’ integrity and highlighted the excellent quality of the Scottish artists who have received support. A full response will be submitted by 31 August.

What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
The more time Creative Scotland needs to take on internal reviews and structural changes risks distracting from the work that artists and producers are getting out to Scottish audiences.


On the heels of last summer’s controversy, Festivals Edinburgh, trade unions, Volunteer Edinburgh and Volunteer Scotland have collaborated to launch a code of conduct for Edinburgh’s festivals. In particular, the Fringe has in depth guidance for companies bringing a show to the festival.

What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
Audiences should be able to feel confident that the staff and volunteers who are bringing work are not being left out of pocket and producers aren’t taking advantage of volunteers.


The summer’s batch of city break profiles has launched and Glasgow’s being touted as an ‘Arty escape’. The article highlights city favourites (and Culture Republic partners) Centre for the Contemporary Arts and the Tramway amongst a host of others. Similarly, Trip Advisor ranked Glasgow as the ninth ‘most excellent city’ in the world to visit.


What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
Tourist audiences are not all the same and it’s clear from pieces like this that there’s a group looking for the city’s most innovative and edgy art and cuisine. If that’s something you can offer pieces like this are well worth courting.


And speaking of tourists, Edinburgh has launched a £1m campaign to target locals and draw them into the city centre by reminding people outside of the traditional tourist season of all the brilliant places to explore right on their doorstep. In addition, many in the city are in favour of a ‘tourist tax’ on visitors to increase direct revenue from visitors to the city – though there are still hurdles to such a tax’s implementation.

What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
Venues and festivals that are located in central Edinburgh can use the ‘locals’ campaign to “re-engage residents who do not come into the city centre very often and remind them of what is on offer”. The tourist tax, if implemented, could raise costs for visitors on hospitality and travel.


There’s plans afoot for a Scottish Islands passport to encourage visitors to explore some of the country’s most remote communities.

What does this mean for Scottish audiences?
This could mean greater external visitor numbers for local cultural and heritage attractions and events and additional income into the community as a whole. As arts and culture are part of the overall draw when travellers are making decisions, those communities with a variety of things to do and see could use the proposed passport to build on existing strengths.

If your programme or marketing is helping to build arts and culture audiences in Scotland we want to know! Email or tweet @Culture_Public to make sure we can help spread the word.

Main image credit: Photo by Ashley Smith Hammond.