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18 08 2019 Eif Quatuor Mona Gaelle Beri 33

Our work with Communities

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.

Culture Club

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

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

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 with an email telling us a little about you and your group.

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

World Music

In 2019, the International Festival worked with Tinderbox Orchestra, Canongate Youth Music Café and Lyra to explore World Music and the power of bringing together the musical traditions of different nations. The groups participated in workshops with musicians including saxophonist Tim Garland and members of Scottish Celtic-fusion band Shooglenifty, not only connecting with the artists but also with their peers in the other groups, before collectively attending Shooglenifty’s East West performance at The Lyceum during the International Festival where they were joined by Dhun Dhora from Rajasthan and Galicia’s Tanxugueiras.

Red Dust Road Community Project

In response to the World Premiere of Red Dust Road at this year’s International Festival, we have partnered with the National Theatre of Scotland on a bespoke community project that seeks to explore some of the key issues from the play including the sense of who we are as citizens of the world, where do we come from, and how do we tell the story of our journeys through life.

Over the Autumn, theatre maker and academic Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh will be engaging with a group from The Welcoming in Gorgie to explore such issues and work towards a creative response.

Cardiff & Miller

Inspired by Cardiff & Miller’s Night Walk for Edinburgh, and in partnership with the Fruitmarket Gallery, this intergenerational project will work with both teenagers and older people who live in Wester Hailes to explore their creative responses to the community within which they live. Marking 50 years since the creation of Wester Hailes, the project will culminate in the participants coming together to connect over their shared space in the city.

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 Afrobeats 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.

Previous Projects
Lau Land Big Tune Machine

As part of their Light on the Shore with Edinburgh Gin Seaside day of curated folk music at Leith Theatre, Lau collaborated with the International Festival on the Big Tune Machine. Bringing together players of all ages they created a folk music big band like no other. Rehearsals took place in June with Amy Geddes and Donald Knox of Fyne Fiddles, before the troupe came together at Leith Theatre to perform a brand-new composition. The afternoon culminated in an open session for those who wished to stay and play.

Youth Ensembles

As part of its 2018 Usher Hall season, the International Festival presented an extraordinary collection of hugely talented young musicians from all over the world.

As part of this celebration of young talent, the International Festival worked closely with communities throughout Edinburgh and beyond, to make sure that the young people of Scotland were able to see some of this incredible live music. Groups including Edinburgh Young Carers, the Welcoming Association, NHS Merchiston, WHALE Arts and a variety of ESL schools in Edinburgh received complimentary tickets and travel support to attend classic music performance.

Wayne McGregor

To coincide with the International Festival’s presentation of Autobiography, the latest work from Wayne McGregor, two dancers from Studio Wayne McGregor came to Edinburgh in June to present three days of workshops. 

Working closely with Dance Base, the first workshop was presented to an intergenerational class of the Lothian Youth Dance Company and PRIME, the semi-professional dance company for over 60s, the first time the two groups had come together. The other two days of workshops took place at Broughton High School, working one day with a group of their dance specialist students, and the other day with pupils from the school who do not actively engage in dance.

Soul Boxes Workshop © Mihaela Bodlovic 050

Our work with Children & Families

08 08 2019 Eif Hard To Be Soft Gaelle Beri 3

Our work with Young People

Ane Satyre Of The Thrie Estaitis © Ryan Buchanan 29

Our work with Creative Development