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Spirit of '47 | 2017 International Festival

Contesting the Spirit of Unity

Whose Festival? Whose Culture?

This event – in the form of readings and a panel discussion – examines the origin of the ‘culture wars’, an underappreciated part of the development of Edinburgh as a Festival City.

Conductor Bruno Walter said that the first Edinburgh International Festival was a ‘magnificent’ experience, which ‘renewed human relations’ after the war. But not everyone felt included. For some years Glasgow Unity Theatre – led by a former factory shop steward – had been discovering working-class talent and presenting popular, professional theatre. But International Festival director Rudolf Bing thought Scottish work unlikely to meet his standards; and making the International Festival accessible to a wide social range of ‘local visitors’ was not a consideration. Glasgow Unity came anyway but had to perform, self-funded, on what later became ‘the Fringe’.

This event – in the form of readings and a panel discussion – shows how the Edinburgh International Festival was at the centre of a post-World-War-II debate about culture that still arouses passions today.

The panel, chaired by Fergus Linehan, Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, will include Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland and theatre critic, Joyce McMillan (National Union of Journalists). The readings will be performed by Helen Mackay and Kevin Lennon. Creative Associate on this event is Ben Harrison.

Supported by Edinburgh Trades Union Council and Scottish Trade Unions

Part of the International Festival and British Council season Spirit of '47

We are delighted that BBC Arts Digital will be collaborating with us, making many of the events from Spirit of ’47 available live and on demand to a global audience online. Visit BBC Arts Digital for more information.

Marina Salandy-Brown

Lorna Goodison

Jacob Ross

Roshini Kempadoo

16 August 2017

This event was part of a previous International Festival and is therefore unavailable to book. The 2019 programme is now available to browse and book. Visit What's On to see the programme

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