Our work with Communities

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Think Global, Act Local

Patrick Geddes

Every year, the International Festival brings the best artists and productions to Scotland. A large part of our Learning and Engagement work is to make sure the people who live in Edinburgh and beyond are able to share in and experience all of the great work being put on. We work closely with a range of communities to help provide access to the programme, engagement and education in the arts, and the ability to participate in the International Festival.

Festival Favours

This summer, Edinburgh International Festival gifted 32 groups across the city their own piece of the Festival. Through Festival Favours, we reconnected with and built new relationships with groups spread across Edinburgh, including charities, clubs and societies, as well as community centres, care homes and social spaces.

Each group received a bespoke celebration moment in which an artist or creative visited them in person or connected with them digitally, bringing joy and creativity to the group’s participants and activities.

Classical Highlights CD

In December 2020, the International Festival worked closely with community partners to connect with older people across Edinburgh who have been socially and creatively isolated this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

When the Edinburgh International Festival had to reimagine its 2020 programme, we instead presented a number of classical music recordings digitally, some of which were broadcast through speakers in Princes Street Gardens, and all which could be enjoyed at home on YouTube. Many music lovers however, were unable to enjoy this experience either in person and/or online. This is where our highlights CD comes in.

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I wanted to extend the joy of the music made in The Hub over August to everyone in the city to help battle creative isolation.

Calum McDonald, the International Festival’s Community Engagement and Access Officer

The classical music highlights album is a collection of recordings from across the International Festival’s digital output from August 2020 and is available online to digitally stream. Thanks to Baillie Gifford Investment Managers, we have also been able to produce physical CDs which we have distributed to socially isolated older people across Edinburgh who are unable to engage with the Festival digitally. So far we have connected with a number of community groups including LifeCare, Home Instead Senor Care, Oxgangs Care, Caring in Craigmillar and Citadel & Pilmeny Development Project’s Intergenerational Group.

We also issued online callouts to community groups to volunteer individuals who could benefit from the CD, as well as working with care homes and day services to distribute copies further afield. It is hoped that the CDs will bring some of the magic of our musical offerings from 2020 into the homes of older generations who were unable to connect with us digitally or in person, and will lead to deeper engagement with more of the citizens of our Festival City.

To read more about the wider highlights album, you can read our blog about the CD here.

Culture Club

Connecting communities to each other and the world through cultural experiences.

Culture Club is a community-based project which aims to bring different communities in Edinburgh together and provide them with access to a range of artistic performances inspired by the International Festival programme. People of all ages from communities around Edinburgh, both geographical and thematic, are invited to enjoy a shared meal, hosted in a different community hub each time, before traveling together to attend a cultural event.

So far, we have presented seven Culture Clubs across Edinburgh from Oxgangs to Craigmiller via Gorgie, Morningside and Leith, and have engaged a diverse range of community groups from across the city, offering the opportunity to attend a wide variety of performances, both as part of the International Festival and throughout the year.

If you are interested in your group being involved in a future Culture Club, please contact engage@eif.co.uk with an email telling us a little about you and your group.

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This was a wonderful opportunity to open the doors to Edinburgh Festival to people who would otherwise not see or experience any shows.

Culture Club Attendee

Global Communities

Through our Global Communities programme, the International Festival looks to expand the connections between the international artists performing at the Festival in August to the citizens of Edinburgh and beyond. The initiative seeks to explore a variety of elements of the International Festival programme through deeper engagement and participation, seeing artists and performances being taken into community settings, providing unique opportunities for artists and audiences to connect.

Further details on the different elements of our Global Communities work can be found below. If you would be interested in your group or community being involved in a future Global Communities initiative, please email engage@eif.co.uk.

Pop Up Performances

The International Festival presented two pop-up performances in community settings during the 2019 Festival.

Performers from Nigeria’s Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True took the incredible stories from their stage show at The Lyceum to the Culture Lounge Salon hairdressers in Leith where they gave the patrons an insight into their celebrated performance and its life-affirming call for female solidarity and empowerment. A space of female celebration, the Culture Salon came alive with colour, and by the end of the pop-up locals and performers were mixing over Afrobeat from the DJ and freshly cooked Nigerian cuisine. Experience it for yourself in the video below.

On the other side of the city, Quatuor Mona were delighting audiences at the Oxgang Neighbourhood Centre’s Fun Day. The string quartet who were in Edinburgh to perform as part of Sir James MacMillan at Greyfriars Kirk, treated the locals to an hour-long repertoire of chamber music which also included an opportunity for them to ask questions at the end. A smaller group from Oxgangs also received tickets and transport support to attend the Greyfriars Kirk performance, expanding their engagement with Quatuor Mona and classical music.