So. You are arranging the 2014 programme for the biggest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh International Festival. This same year, in September, the country hosting the Festival will be asked: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
It follows that the theme of the programme of events will be inspired by or reflect this, right?
Er, no. There is nothing in the Edinburgh International Festival programme connected to the Referendum. There are a couple of productions touching on the theme of national identity, but focusing on this major, upcoming political event? Nothing at all. I could scarcely believe this. What a missed opportunity. Aren’t the arts meant to engage, encourage debate, stimulate, make you question pre-held beliefs? This year, there was the opportunity for food for thought that could be highly relevant to Scottish audience members, and of interest to people from elsewhere, if well presented.
Luckily the Edinburgh Fringe, like a younger, pluckier, more creative relative of the International Festival, has a few shows touching on the Referendum. Indeed, it seems some are here in response to the strange absence of the subject in the Festival programme. And in appreciation of this, I am going to attend a handful (however many my small budget will stretch to). Most of them seem to represent the Yes side, but I’d like to see something on the No side, in the interests of balance.
So, even though I had one of the best arts experiences last summer thanks to the International Festival (Patti Smith and Philip Glass, doing poetry and songs. It was powerful and sublime, and I don’t often use that word), I won’t attend anything from their programme this year. The once-in-a-lifetime referendum is where it’s at, and so I’m going to leaf through the Fringe programme now and choose some shows. I’ll post some mini reviews here in due course…