News Story

We're working with Leith Academy during a three-year residency designed to enrich the life of the school and as part of that, a group of students are acting as ambassadors of the partnership and overseeing all projects.

What are the Festival Ambassadors?

At the centre of the International Festival’s Residency in Leith Academy are the Festival Ambassadors, a group of seventeen self-selected students from across the year groups who work closely with the Festival over the three years.

The group’s remit is three-fold:

Members act as ambassadors for the Residency; promoting projects to fellow students, attending events, and contributing towards the wider communication of the Residency.

Members oversee the Residency; contributing to the creation of its evaluation process, helping to ensure quality across projects.

Members will develop and deliver their own project, connecting their community with the Festival.

Together the group meets once a month with our Learning and Engagement Officer, Amy Firth, to talk, plan, and make new friends.

Amy Firth, Learning and Engagement Officer says:

“I encourage the Festival Ambassadors to take the lead and have a sense of ownership over the group. I report the latest Residency activity to them, and then seek their guidance on various projects. They’re about to begin developing a project which will connect their local communities with the Festival which is really exciting. I just choose the biscuits.”

What have they been up to so far?

The Festival Ambassadors first project has been to co-design the evaluation process within which all Residency projects are measured by. Using Creative Scotland’s toolkit Is This The Best It Can Be?, the Festival Ambassadors have developed a bespoke compass which lays out eight aims of the Residency and what we can deliver to achieve success in these aims.

The compass is an exciting and important piece of collaborative work which ensures all projects are directly responding to the needs and wants of the students at Leith Academy. It is an integral tool in all aspects of each project, in planning and delivering as well as the evaluative stage.

In addition, the compass functions as a key communication tool, clearly communicating what we are working towards within the school. There is such a variety of projects happening within the Residency - from developing vocational skills in senior students, to making guerilla art with electrical tape, to beatboxing on stage at the Traverse – and this compass is a way of making sense of it all! Each project won’t fullfil every aim, so projects choose four priority aims. That way we can ensure that across all projects, we are best serving the community of Leith Academy.

During the partnership, the school has played host to three Artists in Residence, working and engaging with different groups through a variety of artforms, including photographer and film-maker Aly Wight. Aly was also an Artist in Residence for the Castlebrae Community High School Residency so we asked him how he'll be putting the compass into action for his blog project with students.

“By setting their own goals using the evaluation compass, the young people I’m working with at Leith Academy have informed the project I am planning. It is responsive to them rather than prescriptive. The project centres on building a blog to exchange ideas and help to create a safe and respectful platform for young people to showcase their talents and ideas through their own content creation. There will be workshops in web design, videography, photography, sound recording, and video editing as well as guidance in setting up a student run blog. It will hopefully promote new skills and skill sharing across the school, opening things up to even more creativity. My own contribution to the blog will be a series of video interviews with people across the school to try to capture the experiences and stories of Leith Academy.”