tuesday 11 june 2019

It’s a delight for me after the end of a busy day on Brexit and one that I have to say was heavily dominated by talk of Brexit, to be here this evening to launch this first Made in Scotland Festival. Over the next few days, audiences in this city will get the chance to see some truly outstanding work – from Scottish artists and performers that have already lit up the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

And of course, that starts here this evening with the performance of Dancer – by 21 Common. I’ve just met Ian and Gary. I actually know Gary, he showed me round a facility in Glasgow called Touch base and he’s a fantastic character and also wonderful performer so I know you are going to enjoy that performance this evening. And of course there are shows taking place at different venues in the city over the next few days.

So I want to sincerely thank all of the artists, performers and producers who are not just performing over the next few days but who are also representing Scotland and who are being real ambassadors for our country. So thank you for that. I know you are going to thoroughly enjoy what you see here this evening.

Each of these performances – of dance, music and theatre – explore issues of huge contemporary relevance – issues such as inclusion, migration and diversity. But they also highlight the strength of Scotland’s cultural scene. And they demonstrate the value of the Made in Scotland programme.

Each year, the programme helps Scottish artists to bring their work to the Edinburgh Fringe – and to pursue international opportunities. In fact since it was established ten years ago – around 90 Made in Scotland shows have been invited to perform, in countries around the world.

Undoubtedly that has brought huge benefits to our artists and performers. It has helped them to reach new audiences, make new contacts and form new partnerships. But it has also served to enrich and strengthen Scotland’s creative industries and that’s something as a country that we hugely value.

But as well as helping artists from Scotland to perform overseas, we also want international artists and performers to come to Scotland.

And that’s why – as part of this Festival – we’re hosting special networking and information sessions at our Festival Hub. And these are sessions for people who want to find out about presenting or working at the Fringe.   And our hope is that they will help more people – from Belgium and from countries across Europe and from around the world – to come to our country to showcase their talents.

And that of course is vital for the continued growth and success of the Edinburgh Festivals and all of the Edinburgh festivals are growing and succeeding – real Scottish success stories that we’re all incredibly proud of.

And of course it has a wider importance.

Scotland – and this is my only oblique reference to Brexit this evening – Scotland is part by tradition and practice an open and outward-looking country. And we’re determined to remain an open and outward-looking country. We want to strengthen our international relations not move away from them – and we want to find common ground with other nations. And in that effort, we recognise that cultural exchanges are very important and indeed have a very big role to play.  

My final observation really is to recognise that spirit, that sentiment that I’ve just expressed was of course the spirit and sentiment that motivated the founding of the Edinburgh Festivals, shortly after the Second World War.

In many respects, in fact, the Festivals share many of the same aims as the European Union does. Both were borne out of that post-war desire to create a better Europe – and a better world. And the D-Day commemorations which took place just last week – remind us of how that important that is.

Our country remains committed to the principles of international cooperation and solidarity. And now more than ever, we want to strengthen ties with countries and friends across the European continent.

And our fervent hope and my strong belief is that this Made in Scotland Festival, will help us to do that. So my warm thanks to everybody who worked so hard on Made in Scotland to make this a success. I hope that you get an opportunity to experience not just tonight’s experience but the performances over the next few days. Thank you for being here and we look forward to strengthening our exchanges, cultural and otherwise over the months and years to come.

press release: made in scotland festival 2019

Dance, Theatre and Music from The Edinburgh Festival Fringe to Brussels

Six Performances Across Six Iconic Brussels Venues

Made in Scotland Festival brings six dance, theatre and music performances to Brussels, selected from work presented at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Funded by the Scottish Government and presented across 6 different partner venues from the 11 – 14 June, the festival seeks to extend a welcoming hand from Scotland to Europe aiming to encourage cultural collaboration, exchange and engagement. The festival will offer audiences the chance to see shows that span the intimate, provocative, inviting, evocative, radical, relevant and fun. All events are free.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said:

“The ‘Made in Scotland Festival’ is a celebration and a symbol of the intention of Scotland to remain culturally connected with our friends in the European Union and wider international community. Bringing a taste of the Fringe to Brussels with the Made in Scotland Festival will show a much wider audience that Scotland is welcoming and very much open to business and cultural collaborations with other countries. The Scottish Government has supported Made in Scotland at the Edinburgh Fringe for 11 years - showcasing the very best of Scotland’s music, theatre and dance, and creating national and international touring opportunities for Scottish artists.”

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

 "The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society are very excited to have this opportunity to present a selection of works created in Scotland, and to be able to work with so many venue partners across Brussels. The Made in Scotland Festival is absolutely about presenting the best of Scottish dance, theatre and music, that has already been seen at the Fringe in Edinburgh, to a new audience here in Brussels. But also, and perhaps even more importantly, about celebrating culture’s ability to unite people across borders, connections and possibility for the future."

In I Could Go On Singing (Over The Rainbow), performance artist FK Alexander, with live accompaniment from Glasgow-based noise band Okishima Island Tourist Association creates a loud yet loving interactive experience of undivided attention and intimacy, presented  in a three-hour performance.

“Nothing will quite prepare you for the emotional impact and intimacy.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Robbie Synge’s choreography in Douglas centres on work with a number of simple objects found in the theatre space, exploring the body’s connections with our physical surroundings. At times both delicate and dramatic, the work holds many surprises, often defined by the objects themselves.

'…a choreography of cause and effect, a solo that edges from bravura tricksiness to something unexpectedly affecting, bordering on the cataclysmic...' ★★★★ The Herald

With music ranging from Kylie Minogue to Nick Cave, Ian Johnson, Scotland’s leading learning-disabled artist, and Gary Gardiner hit the dancefloor in Dancer by 21Common. Challenging, uncompromising and hilarious, Dancer will allow you to sneak a peek into what it is about dance that makes them feel most alive.

‘Dapper and delicate... such a lovely piece of work’ ★★★★ The Guardian

Written and performed by legendary trans playwright, performer, poet and proud father and grandmother Jo Clifford and presented by Queen Jesus Productions, The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven combines theatre with storytelling, spoken word and unique ritual in a way that, according to one audience member, “leaves everyone feeling blessed”.

Devotional compassion drives this imaginatively staged and often challenging reflection on inclusion, persecution and identification.” ★★★★ The List

Inspired by the stories of conscientious objectors who refused to fight during the First World War, award winning composer and guitarist, Graeme Stephen’s powerful performance Letters for Peace weaves together music, spoken word and image to engage with the public perception of war, highlighting the sacrifices objectors made in the name of peace. 

“Stephen’s daring writing and willingness to complement conventional lyricism with sonic experiment makes for a powerful experience” The Scotsman

The Tailor of Inverness by Dogstar Theatre Company is an unforgettable story of displacement and survival in war-torn Europe. The performance is powerful and moving allegory for all victims of war, relevant as much now as it ever was.

“…brilliantly encapsulates the effects of war on individuals, families and societies… As the truth becomes less and less certain, so the fracturing impact of the war grows more tangible, lending this touching personal story the grand metaphorical weight of 20th century history. All this and live fiddle too.” The List

Made in Scotland Festival will manage a Festival Hub at Saint-Géry where throughout the week there will be talks, workshops and events during the day and meeting points, gatherings and drinks late into the night after each show; and a Festival Closing Party will be held at Recyclart’s new venue.                                      

Made in Scotland Festival is made possible through funding from the Scottish Government and presents work previously showcased by the Made in Scotland programme. The Made in Scotland programme is a curated showcase of theatre, dance and music presented every year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Over the last ten years, Made in Scotland at the Fringe has featured over 200 shows and has enabled more than 85 productions to visit 39 countries across the world. The Made in Scotland Festival will see a selection of 6 of these shows presented in Brussels for the first time. The Made in Scotland programme is made possible through a partnership between The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Creative ScotlandFederation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Music Centre and supported by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund.

For press enquiries: Noor Van der Poorten -

Practical information

Made in Scotland Festival

When: 11 to 14 June 2019

Where: Several locations in Brussels (Halles Saint-Géry, De Kriekelaar, Beursschouwburg, Théatre de la Vie, Zinnema, Recyclart)

Free entrance