A musical career in three movements

Headshot of Kirsteen Davidson Kelly
30 May 2023

With a working life of more than 30 years, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly explores how her early career in performance has informed her present leadership role in the music world.  

Made in Scotland funds 18 shows at Edinburgh Fringe

30 May 2023

The Made in Scotland programme will fund 18 Scottish shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The programme, funded by the Scottish government’s Festivals Expo Fund, will support shows created by local companies, spanning a range of performance styles including dance, music and theatre.

This year’s selection of shows focus on themes including life and death, loss, violence and drug addiction, as well as exploring everyday life through the lens of emerging parenthood and family.

Performances will also delve into Scottish traditions, exploring how they embody culture while questioning the concept and nature of a country.

The 18 shows selected for the 2023 festival are part of more than 250 funded by the Made in Scotland showcase since its inception in 2009.

Christina McKelvie, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development at the Scottish Government, said the programme gives “Scottish talent a well-earned opportunity to perform on the international stage”. 

“Together, the Fringe and Made in Scotland help nurture and encourage the exceptional creative talent that flourishes in Scotland, showcasing the creativity and innovation that’s right on our doorstep,” she said.

The showcase is “the main mechanism through which Scottish government supports local artists at the Edinburgh Fringe”, said Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

“It has been a vital platform for artists from Scotland to have their work seen, promoted and presented alongside their international peers.”

Arts ‘integral’ to supporting communities, research finds

Shopwindow of 44 King Street, Stirling
26 May 2023

Team of researchers say funding for cultural community hubs needs to be addressed after evaluating the positive impact of a creative partnership in Stirling.

Scotland launches fund for participatory arts and mental health

24 May 2023

A new fund has been launched in Scotland to nurture specialist practice in participatory arts and mental health.

Creative Scotland’s Participatory Arts and Mental Health Fund is backed with £145,000 from The National Lottery.

Created in partnership with the Baring Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation, the initiative is in response to increased interest in the connections between art, health and well-being.

Kim Simpson, Creative Scotland’s Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion, hopes the fund will help promote a deeper understanding of the role the arts can play in this area.

She said: “The funding will allow for time and space for new ideas and approaches to be explored and developed, and for innovative ways of working to emerge that will benefit mental health prevention and recovery within participatory settings.”

She added that work in this area “couldn’t be more crucial or timely as we in Scotland, like other nations in the UK and around the world, grapple with the worsening mental health crisis”.

Edinburgh film festival to return in summer

22 May 2023

Edinburgh International Film Festival is set to return later this year after announcing its immediate closure last October when the charity that ran it entered administration.

The festival has joined with Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) to present a scaled-down programme of events this summer as part of EIF’s larger calendar of theatre, comedy and music.

Meanwhile, Screen Scotland, which is part of Creative Scotland, is looking to solidify the film festival’s long-term future.

Work with a group of industry experts is underway to reinstate a standalone annual film festival from next year, which is expected to target young, diverse audiences.

The festival is receiving a £400,000 grant from Screen Scotland and has appointed a new programme director, former Senior Programme at London Film Festival Kate Taylor, while the search for a new chair is ongoing.

Online marketplace for Scottish arts organisations launches

(Left to right) Nicola Cruickshank, Marketing Assistant at Ocean Terminal; Heather Robertson, Living Memory Association Manager; Caroline Kaye, volunteer at Living Memory Association; and Tommy McCormick, Culture & Business Scotland Fund Manager
22 May 2023

Scheme established by Culture & Business Scotland seeks to provide new opportunities for creative collaboration by allowing businesses to purchase products and services from cultural organisations.

City council defends Glasgow Life staff cuts

12 May 2023

Glasgow City Council’s culture leader has said a reduction in the number of staff at Glasgow Life will not affect the quality of the city’s cultural offer.

Earlier this year, the council announced the number of conservation staff at Glasgow Life, which operates council-owned cultural venues, will be reduced by 40% as part of a £1.5m cost saving effort in the museums and collections department.

The decision will mean displays and temporary exhibitions will not be changed as frequently in museums under Glasgow Life’s remit.

Staff cuts at the charity date back to 2021, following a loss of income due to pandemic-related closures.

Responding to concerns raised by fellow councillors at a council meeting on Thursday (11 May), City Convener for Culture, Sport and International Relations, Anette Christie, said the impact of the proposals had been carefully considered.

“It is recognised that this level of reduction will of course have an impact on the frequency of temporary exhibitions and display changes but these decisions have been made in response to the scale of the financial challenge that the city faces.”

Christie insisted the affected museums will retain their Glasgow Museums accreditation, which allows venues to secure revenue or capital funding.

She added the city will maintain its reputation for world-renowned collections, with the council planning development projects at the People’s Palace and the Mitchell Library.

“This city is a city of innovation and we will build on that. Our ambitions still remain great,” Christie said.

“Change is difficult but I have assured them of how important they are to the city, the role that they play and I can say with confidence they are still dedicated.”

Creative Scotland shares update on multi-year funding plans

a pipe band performs in front of a crowd in glasgow
10 May 2023

The next edition of Scotland’s multi-year funding programme will begin in April 2025, with a first round of applications opening in September this year.

Cancelled comic Jerry Sadowitz set for Edinburgh Fringe return

10 May 2023

The controversial comedian and magician Jerry Sadowitz is to return to the Edinburgh Fringe, despite having the second of two 2022 shows cancelled following complaints.

Sadowitz has been booked for a three-night run at The Queen's Hall for this year's Fringe.

The show in August is being billed as 'Jerry Sadowitz …proudly presents Last Year's Show' and is being promoted by Regular Music.

The flyer advertising the show warns that it is "offensive to everyone".

Last year's show at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre was cancelled by promoters the Pleasance after what it claimed was an "unprecedented number of complaints".

The Pleasance said the show was "extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny".

Sadowitz, however, said his act contained "a lot of silly, exaggerated irony and nonsense, real fake and exaggerated anger and bile... for the purpose of the funny line which follows it".

He added: "The show is what it is, for those who enjoy it. The rest of you... please stick to Carry On films."

Edinburgh Fringe show cancelled after staff revolt

03 May 2023

An event featuring SNP MP Joanna Cherry that was set to take place at The Stand in Edinburgh has been cancelled due to staff concerns.

The venue made the decision to cancel the event, which was due to take place during the August Fringe Festival, after staff said they were uncomfortable with Cherry’s views on transgender issues, BBC Scotland reported.

The Edinburgh South MP is a critic of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform plans, which make it easier for people to change their legally-recognised sex.

The show was billed as part of an In Conversation With series of events, with other guests including film director Ken Loach, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

The Stand said it did not endorse the views of any participant in the series, organised by independent producer Fair Pley.

“Following extensive discussions with our staff it has become clear that a number of key operational staff, including venue management and box office personnel, are unwilling to work on this event,” the venue said in a statement.

“We will ensure that their views are respected. We will not compel our staff to work on this event and so have concluded that the event is unable to proceed on a properly staffed, safe and legally compliant basis.”

Cherry said she was planning to talk about her career in politics and the Scottish independence movement, as well as her feminist views.

“I would hope The Stand would see sense here. Staff shouldn't be framing editorial and artistic policy,” she told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme.

“I'm being cancelled and no-platformed because I'm a lesbian who holds gender-critical views that somebody's sex is immutable.

“I've made those views clear over a number of years. I have never said that trans people should not have equal rights.”

She said the cancellation of the event signalled that “something's gone very wrong in Scotland's civic space”.

Culture & Business Scotland launches new funding round

A giant puppet created by theatre company Vision Mechanics
02 May 2023

Cultural organisations in Scotland are invited to apply for funding facilitated by sponsorships from local businesses.

Glasgow arts centre cuts ties with cafe following staff protests

25 Apr 2023

The Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow has parted company with its business tenant, Saramago Cafe Bar, following a dispute by cafe staff over working conditions.

In a statement announcing the decision, CCA said the cafe would close "with immediate effect".

The move follows accusations that Saramago sacked three members of staff during their shifts on 3 March, for taking part in union-supported action against staff shortages.

Saramago's owners have strongly denied this. They say staff took part in an unannounced work stoppage in breach of their contracts, and that the union supporting the action, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), is not recognised in the UK. 

Regular demonstrations organised by the IWW have taken place outside CCA since the three staff were sacked.

CCA said it had “worked tirelessly over the past five weeks in the hope for productive conversation and a positive outcome that aligns with our organisational priority of fair work.

"We truly wish the situation could have been resolved differently.”

It continued: “We recognise the gravity of this decision, and are committed to acting in the most accountable and considerate way possible."

Scottish arts festivals share £1.8m

24 Apr 2023

Major arts festivals in Edinburgh and Glasgow are to receive a share of the Scottish Government’s Expo Fund worth £1.8m.

Established in 2007, the fund aims to build innovation across the festivals and maximise national and international opportunities for the artists contributing to them.

The year, 14 festivals including Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and Glasgow International Festival are receiving funding.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has received the most, totalling £550,000.

Glasgow Film Festival and the biennial Sonica visual art and sonic festival will receive funding for the first time. Creative Scotland Chief Executive Iain Munro welcomed the government’s decision to “recognise the distinct international profile and work” of the two events.

“The fund is vital in raising the international profile of these festivals and enabling them to enhance their programmes through exciting and innovative co-productions and collaborations,” Munro added.

New permanent premises for Dundee Museum of Transport 

18 Apr 2023

Dundee Museum of Transport has been granted planning permission to convert an old tram depot into a permanent home.

The museum purchased the 120-metre-long B-listed Maryfield Tram Depot in 2015, along with two acres of surrounding grounds.

Constructed in 1901, it has been on the Buildings at Risk register since 2010. It is scheduled for “extensive renovation”, following which it will serve as the new home of the museum, which is currently based in temporary premises.

The multi-million development plans propose re-using the existing building fabric, conserving and restoring building elements where possible.

A new steel structure and modern panelled roof are set to be installed to the fire-damaged rear section, with translucent panels at high levels introducing light into the new exhibition space, according to plans by local architectural practice Andrew Black Design.

Increasing the internal height will allow for future expansion by adding a mezzanine level, enabling the museum to change its space to suit shifting needs. The design also includes an internal courtyard that will be connected to an external display space.

“To reach the milestone of securing planning permission for our Maryfield site is incredibly exciting,” said Dr Paul Jennings, the museum’s Executive Director.

“The new museum will celebrate Dundee’s transport heritage but also take a look into the future of transport. Over the coming months, we will continue our fundraising efforts in order to try and deliver the new museum to an ambitious timetable.”

Access a priority for Scottish youth music funding

11 Apr 2023

More than 60 youth music projects in Scotland have received funding in a bid to 'drive inclusivity and tackle social issues'.

Nearly £1.7m has been provided to 63 community music projects through the Scottish Government-backed Youth Music Initiative (YMI).

The funding is administered by Creative Scotland.

Most of the funded projects – 58 in total – received awards through the Access to Music Making stream, aimed at young people who face 'opportunity barriers'.

The remainder were funded via Strengthening Youth Music. This supports individuals, organisations and networks which undertake 'strategic action' to promote the country's youth music sector.

Morag Macdonald, YMI Manager at Creative Scotland, said the funding was "supporting an incredibly diverse array of projects that will create meaningful opportunities for children and young people to take part in music activities right across the country".

Now in its 20th year, projects funded by YMI in this latest round include Paisley-based Kibble Education and Care Centre, Music Space in Glasgow – a new initiative produced by AC Projects, the organisation behind the city's Counterflows festival – and Angie's Project in Edinburgh, which focuses on electronic music production education.

YMI's flagship funded projects include the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, Highlands-based Fèis Rois and Lothian’s A.R.T.S Afternoon. 

Paisley Museum to open after £45m transformation 

Depiction of 'Paisley Museum Reimagined' following £45m transformation.
11 Apr 2023

The Scottish museum will reopen with a larger venue, including additional gallery spaces and an expanded collection.

Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre sold to Trafalgar Entertainment

11 Apr 2023

The Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow has been bought by the global live entertainment company Trafalgar Entertainment. 

The 1,449-capacity city centre theatre, which first opened to the public in 1904, is the company's first Scottish venue.

It will become part of its Trafalgar Theatres division in a portfolio that includes Trafalgar Theatre in London’s West End, the Theatre Royal Sydney in Australia, and 12 UK regional theatres including Southend Cliffs Pavilion and the New Theatre, Cardiff.

Helen Enright, CEO of Trafalgar Theatres, said: “Glasgow is a vibrant, energetic city and the Pavilion Theatre has earned its place in the city’s entertainment landscape. We are committed to building on that success."

She added that Trafalgar would increase the number of shows presented at the venue, as well as "investing in the building, growing audiences and ensuring a successful future for this beautiful, iconic theatre”.

Christina McKelvie becomes new Scottish culture minister

05 Apr 2023

Christina McKelvie has been appointed Scotland’s Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development by new Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf.

The MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse replaces Neil Gray, who had been in the post since January 2022.

Her previous Scottish Government role was Minister for Equalities and Older People.

As Culture Minister her responsibilities will include cultural policy and heritage, as well as the organisations Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.

She will work alongside Culture Secretary Angus Robertson, who has held the position since May 2021 and will sit as a member of Yousaf's cabinet.

McKelvie has been an MSP since 2007 and has represented Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse since 2011.

She said she was "honoured" to take up the new role.

Digital theatre project seeks to address online radicalisation

05 Apr 2023

A digital theatre group is working with young people in Edinburgh to tackle the online radicalisation of masculinity and 'Incel' (involuntary celibate) culture.

Civic Digits will co-produce a new theatre production, 'Many Good Men', with the Edinburgh-based Stellar Quines theatre company, YouthLink Scotland, Zero Tolerance Scotland and Heart of Midlothian F.C.

Award-winning playwright Clare Duffy, Civic Digits’ Founder and Artistic Director, said: “We're planning to support two groups of young people to write and direct two new forum theatre plays about the radicalisation of masculinity online. It will be performed by professional actors at Hearts F.C. stadium.”

The project will involve working with groups of 15–to 18-year-olds in their communities and will be developed over the next nine months.

The performances at Tynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh will take place in December.

'Many Good Men' is one of 46 projects to receive a total of £1.6m in National Lottery funding in the latest round of Creative Scotland’s Open Fund awards. 

Other funded projects include the 2023 editions of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival and Edinburgh Festival Carnival, and this year's Open Studios Hebrides.

Paul Burns, Interim Director of Arts at Creative Scotland, said "a range of new and important stories will be told as part of the latest round of Open Fund awards". 

Scotland pauses involvement with Venice Biennale

04 Apr 2023

Scotland has paused its involvement with the 2024 edition of the Venice Biennale art exhibition, with a review scheduled to take place to consider options.

A spokesman for the Scotland + Venice partnership, which oversees Scottish involvement, said that in “the present financial and planning environment” it was necessary to “review the current model of delivery” before committing to next year’s art event. 

Scottish involvement in this year’s architecture exhibition in Venice will go ahead as planned.

The spokesman said the review will consider the project’s position “within the wider scope of international opportunities available to Scotland's art and architecture communities”.

“This has been a difficult decision to make, especially given the project's significant achievements over the last 20 years,” he said.

“The decision also acknowledges the impact that the project has on the environment, and the need to consider how it can be delivered more ethically and sustainably into the future.”

Scotland has participated in the biennale since 2003, in part due to the fact that the British pavilion was unable to showcase the range and volume of Scottish and Scotland-based artists working in the contemporary art scene.

The country does not have its own pavilion however, instead staging “collateral” shows on the fringes of the main sites.

The partnership, which involves Creative Scotland, the British Council, National Galleries of Scotland, Architecture & Design Scotland, V&A Dundee and the Scottish Government, has said that Scotland will not be withdrawing from the biennale but will need to find a new model for presenting work there after the review process in completed. 


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