- 11 Jun 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.
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