News Story

In a special launch event, the Edinburgh International Festival celebrated its three-year residency with Leith Academy with a new brand created in collaboration with students from the school.

The first year of partnership between Edinburgh International Festival, Leith Academy and the City of Edinburgh Council has created a range of cultural opportunities for students, as well as enriching social, personal and vocational development. 2019 has included a Personal Development Award, groups of students performing with artists at major venues, a Festival Ambassadors programme and the inspirational work of four artists in residence.

The overarching theme of the residency is identity, something the third year Art and Design pupils thought deeply about when they collaborated with members of the Festival’s marketing team to design a brand that represented the multi-faceted partnership. They were asked to come up with imagery that symbolised the values of the school and the Festival, and then to find creative ways to combine the two – engaging key employable skills and producing a brilliant range of results. The Craft, Design and Technology pupils were involved with creating merchandise like branded water bottles and mugs using the final design.

The chosen brand was designed by a student called Rhiannon who described herself as ‘not the most artistic person’ and so was excited to see her work represented at a special launch event that brought together students, artists and Festival staff. There were tote bags, T-shirts, notebooks and even a rainbow cake with the logo to kick off the celebrations.

“This particular branding event allowed our young people to not only see how branding ‘comes alive’, but to actually be part of creating it from start to finish with skilled professionals.”
Mike Irving, Head Teacher at Leith Academy

The brand incorporates both the yellow identity synonymous with the International Festival, and the vivid blue of the Leith Academy school crest and uniform, chosen to reflect the school’s ties to its local community and Leith’s maritime history. Rhiannon described her intention for the design as being something that would appeal to everyone, something that could be understood and appreciated by children of any age.

“There are some students here who just don’t want to know about school, but something like this could get them involved,” she suggested, “I wasn’t always the best student, I used to get in trouble a lot”. She now does work experience at a local primary school with children with behavioural difficulties. She hoped the design and work she has been involved with in the residency would make her school and headteacher proud.

One of the artists in residence, Heather Marshall, is also a former pupil of the school who struggled to engage with education. She has been working closely and creatively with the school’s Nurture department, which is designed to support students’ personal development and mental health. She was on hand at the event to celebrate with the groups she has been working with, including LGBT students and those with disabilities.

Under the new blue and yellow banner, the second year of the residency is set to deepen the impact of existing projects and expand into new areas. Taking on the theme of diversity in 2020, the residency will be joined by new artists in residence, including local theatre-maker and dancer Emma Jayne Park and performer and director Peter Lannon who will work with pupils to explore masculinity and gender. Mamoru Iriguchi, Lou Brodie and playwright James Ley will collaborate on a project called Sex Education Xtreme, a performance for young people aged 12-15 that seeks to give insight into sex education and the evolution of gender. A series of career talks with International Festival teams will expand the mentoring scheme, including the Festival’s Technical department who will take students behind the scenes for a programme of training.