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Leith Academy Brand Launch © Ryan Buchanan 2

Leith Academy

Edinburgh International Festival is partnered with Leith Academy in a three-year residency designed to enrich the life of the school.

As well as creating cultural opportunities for the school community, the Residency looks beyond the work the International Festival presents on stage; equipping students with personal, social and vocational skills.

We began our relationship with the school in late 2018 by consulting with students and staff at Leith Academy to develop plans which reflected the interests and needs of the school community. Emerging through the consultation work, and in connection with the International Festival programme, an overarching theme of identity marked year one of the Residency; exploring who we are as individuals and as a community.

Year two of the Residency will share the theme of diversity, alongside the school’s own diversity celebrations.

In partnership with City of Edinburgh Council.

The Residency Brand

In collaboration with the International Festival’s Marketing and Communications team, we set third year students in Art and Design and Craft, Design and Technology the task of designing a brand identity for the Residency which reflected the values of the relationship between Leith Academy and the International Festival.

The Marketing and Communications team delivered a programme of ten workshops which supported the students in understanding the components of a brand identity, as well as sharing details of their roles in the organisation and respective career paths.

Leith Academy Residency Logo V3

Students then created mood boards which offered ideas for logos, straplines, colour schemes and merchandise, which were brought to completion by a Graphic Designer.

The final design is a monogrammed L and A in Festival yellow and vivid blue reflecting the school’s crest and Leith’s maritime history. Merchandise has been produced using the brand, externally as well as by a production team of students in Craft, Design and Technology. This brand will be used throughout the Residency to mark all projects. 

In 2020, we will be working with our Technical team, providing expertise in the area of Technical Theatre.

Artists in Residence

Over the three-year Residency, the International Festival places artists in residence within the school, engaging different groups through a variety of artforms.

Meet our Artists in Residence below.

Find out more about our artists in residence

Ashley Jack
Ashley has been working with the students taking a National Progression Award in Dance, as well as providing hip-hop tasters for all S2s.

Ashley Jack is an Edinburgh-based hip hop dancer and choreographer. Ashley teaches children and adults in studios, dance colleges and schools, and under her brand, House of Jack. She also organises regular workshops by international and local dancers.

Pete Lannon and Emma Jayne Park
Pete and Emma have been working with two S1 classes on a project exploring the rules (the explicit and unspoken ones) that govern how we express ourselves and who has the power in young people’s lives.

Pete Lannon is a performer and director based in Glasgow, and one-third of SUPERFAN - a new contemporary performance company whose work blends theatre, performance art, circus and choreography to create new work for adult and young audiences. 

Emma Jayne Park works under the handle Cultured Mongrel as a dancer, theatre maker, collaborator and micro-activist. From creating dance with young rural communities to working as a movement director in established theatres, her politics always underline her practice with a focus on narrowing the gap between ideology and practice, questioning inherited systems and consent fuelled collaboration.

Mamoru Iriguchi, with Lou Brodie and James Ley
Mamoru, Lou and James have been developing a piece of theatre for entitled S.E.X. (Sex Education Xtreme), working with S3s in Personal and Social Education classes. Initially developed through Imaginate, S.E.X. is a thought-provoking yet playful piece which encourages everyone to celebrate their own and others’ gender identities. 

Mamoru Iriguchi is an award-winning Edinburgh-based performance maker and theatre designer with a background in zoology. His performance works explore 2D and 3D, liveness and pre-recorded-ness, gender and sexuality, fairytales and evolution theories.

Lou Brodie is an applied artist, performance maker and project manager based in Scotland. Through an artistic process rooted in social practice and conviviality Lou produces idiosyncratic art works and events in collaboration with communities, people and place.

James Ley is a dramaturg, playwright and screenwriter living in Edinburgh. James is under commission to Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Ambassadors Theatre Group, Perth Theatre, Pearlfisher Theatre Company and the Scottish Film Talent Network. 

Heather Marshall
Heather works with students in the school’s Nurture Base on projects which are responsive to their needs. She is currently working with a group of students on projects related to identity and LGBTQ+ awareness and understanding in the school; a group of S1 students on building confidence through the creation of alter egos; and students from Wider Achievement on a collaborative art installation for Leith Academy’s Diversity week.

Heather Marshall is a multi-award-winning artist who creates accessible socio-political performance and live art for people that may not traditionally attend mainstream arts events. She often works under the company name Creative Electric.

Aly Wight
Aly is currently working with students taking a National Progression Award in Journalism, equipping them with skills including videography, sound recording, and website management. The students will use their skills to create a school blog as well as a new film project entitled Pass It On, a digital archive of student interviews, sharing advice they would like to pass on to future generations.

Aly Wight is a photographer and film-maker based in Edinburgh who works with a range of clients in the arts, charity, corporate and design industries. Aly was an artist in residence for the Castlebrae Community High School Residency, capturing the pupils emotional and physical transformation over the course of three years.

Upcoming artists in residence include:

Scottish Ballet

Beatboxing at Leith Academy

In 2019, a partnership project between the Edinburgh International Festival, the Traverse Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre saw students from Leith Academy explore the art and skills of beatboxing, culminating in a performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.

Working with artists from the BAC Beatbox Academy alongside Scottish singer-songwriter Josie O’Neill, pupils were introduced to beatboxing through a week long in-school residency in June. These sessions were followed by a Summer School in July where students created their own beatboxing curtain raisers which kicked off several performances of Battersea Art Centre’s Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s original tale, and re-imagined with songs, soundscapes and sonic trickery, Frankenstein was performed at the Traverse Theatre from 6-25 August.

Find out more about when Leith Academy met Beatbox Academy over on the blog.

Culture Club

This programme offers social trips for staff and students to engage in a variety of cultural experiences – from music and drama, to visual art and dance - encouraging an appetite for the arts and breaking down any barriers which might inhibit many from engaging.

So far, we have been on Culture Club trips to:

Mouthpiece – Traverse Theatre
Touching the Void – Lyceum Theatre
RSNO: The Music of Harry Potter – Usher Hall
Scottish Ballet: Spring! – Festival Theatre
Us/Them – Festival Theatre Studio
Scottish Opera: The Magic Flute – Festival Theatre
Ian McKellen on Stage - Assembly Hall
Barber Shop Chronicles - The Lyceum
Scottish Ballet: The Snow Queen - Festival Theatre

During the 2019 Festival, sixty staff and students went to see Ian McKellen On Stage. A share of the profits will go towards improvements to the school.

Our Christmas Culture Club to see Scottish Ballet’s The Snow Queen was opened to the families of students at Leith Academy as part of our efforts to engage the wider communities of the school.

Festival Ambassadors

A group of students S1-6 have formed the Festival Ambassadors and are working closely within the Residency to oversee all projects as well as acting as ambassadors of the partnership. The group have co-designed a evaluation tool using Creative Scotland’s toolkit Is This The Best It Can Be?, which is used to ensure all projects are working for and with the community of the school. In 2020, the group will work together to develop community projects, developing their skills in project development and events management.

Meet our Festival Ambassadors in the gallery below.
Photos by Artist in Residence Aly Wight.

Personal Development Award: Festival Residents

We deliver a bespoke qualification to senior students. The Personal Development Award: Festival Resident is an SQA level 6 qualification in which candidates gain workplace experience with the Festival, building a range of personal, social and vocational skills, as well as the support to work on personal and group projects within the Residency’s remit. 

Our Festival Residents last year were Martha Barr, Shona Baxter and Harmony Gosman. The qualification is now in its second year.


We have developed a mentoring programme with the guidance of the Scottish Mentoring Network which matches International Festival staff with senior students at Leith Academy. Following a successful mentoring programme as part of the Castlebrae Residency, this programme will support participants to form meaningful and mutually enriching relationships which will deepen cultural awareness, build confidence and support students to take their next steps. 

Leith Academy Brand Launch © Ryan Buchanan 67

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