Showing posts with label cultural. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cultural. Show all posts

Monday 30 October 2023

Our Cultural Capital: Share it out! Bryan Appleyard Times

We must question why London gets by miles the biggest investment – sucking from the rest of the country

Residents of Country Durham paid £34 m to the Arts lottery since 1995  and received 12m in arts funding in return! By contrast the City of Westminster contributed 14.5m and received 408m! 


Shocking! The last figures for private giving were in 2011 and showed that 85% of giving went to London. 


Of course every country needs a capital - the problem is in the UK you only have the one main city – by contrast in the US they set up the government in Washington - away from the main city of New York. 


In most European countries there are several main cities.

Tuesday 31 December 2019

Scotla's Cultural Renewals

The Sunday Times has been running debates on whether Scots culture has declined in recent years, with an article by Hugh Andrew: criticising the quality of Scots culture today and claiming it is only about clichés and worn-out tat.  (Andrew is Director Birlinn publishers). David Keenan asks if Scots are the only nation that consume cheap tat – well this is certainly not true! Go to any major city worldwide then and find even cheaper .

While historian Tom Devine wondered Scots are too keen on ‘celebrities of limited talent’ over great writers, scientists, artists and scholars. The article also wondered, why has there not been more celebration of the 700 years of  the Declaration of Arbroath: the world’s greatest documents of nationhood, liberty, and freedom – well that is next April 2020 and we’ll celebrate then! 

I find all this astonishing and not my experience at all. The unionist press likes to run articles demeaning the Scots and Scotland - because don’t we need our Etonian masters in London making decisions for us? Well Hello magazine and the Daily Mail are not Scottish publications! Celebrity culture has reached us from America.  

However author Denise Mina, wisely writes that talent often develops from a rich cultural soil, rather than any controlled executive

SCOTS TRADITIONS: The School of Scottish Studies archives  was set up in 1951, by Calum Maclean (brother of poet Sorley Maclean) and by folklorist and poet Hamish Henderson. They collaborated with American folklorist Alan Lomax. Folklorist Margaret Bennet also worked at the school: they worked to keep Gaelic, Scots and traditional ballads alive. A degree course was established in 1986, and is now known as Celtic and Scottish Studies. Bennet’s son, Martyn mixed traditional voices, Bothy ballads, and pipes with contemporary dance grooves. At Celtic Connections 2014, Greg Lawson's innovative Grit orchestra performed Bennet's album to great acclaim .

In 1994 Aly Bain and other musicians began a small Glasgow winter festival, Celtic Connections, which has now evolved into the world biggest folk, roots and world music festival and takes place in 32 venues over 18 days and with artists coming worldwide. Many artists perform Robert Burns and other traditional songs, as well as singing in Gaelic. Glasgow is ideal for the folk festival with its many diverse and much loved venues – Barrowlands, King Tuts, Oran Mor, Old Fruitmarket  concert hall and more. -

Edinburgh also is the perfect historic city for its major arts festival each August – begun in 1947, it attracts visitors worldwide and is one of the world’s oldest and most significant cultural events. Edinburgh International festival -
Aly Bain
Dougie MacLean

SCOTS ARTS. Glasgow also boasts the work of the Glasgow Boys Colourists, 1890s to 1910. 
Glasgow’s Rennie Mackintosh Art School may have been destroyed by fire, but more people than ever appreciate and enjoy Macintosh’s work at the Home for an Art Lover and at the LIghthouse. In Glasgow there is also the impressive Kelvingrove and the Burrell collection. While Edinburgh boasts the Scottish Portrait gallery and National Galleries. In the 90s the head of Scottish Arts wanted to close the portrait galleries, claiming no significant Scottish art! 

SCOTS MEDIA. We’re poorly served by media and by Creative Scotland though, with a struggle to build Scotland a film studio (amazingly considering Wales, Northern Ireland, Birmingham have studios). Even though we have some of the world’s greatest scenery. And no Scottish TV channels: when even the poorest European country, Moldova, has its own tv channel.  However the global success of Outlander has seen a film studio built. While the new BBC Scotland channel is mostly playing it safe. 

What has been a problem is Scots institutions being run by outsiders who don’t value or understand Scot’s traditions or history. I studied art, history at school in Edinburgh, in the 70s, but learned nothing of Scots culture, history or heritage. I’m now teaching myself and learning of our great enlightenment, art and song.  For decades, no centuries, there has been deliberate policies to suppress Scots culture.  

SCOTS MUSIC. Scots music has enjoyed a renaissance since the 70s –  Average White band, Simple Minds, Deacon Blue, Franz Ferdinand, Lulu, Texas, Snow Patrol, Gerry Rafferty, Annie Lennox, Del Amitri – to name a few. With some of the most innovative and creative talent. Scots artists have achieved great success in 2019 – a particular shout out to the newcomer Lewis Capaldi. Plus Calvin Harris, Mogwai, Emeli Sande, Chvrches, Tom Walker, Kathryn Joseph, Young Fathers, C Duncan, Be Charlotte, Frightened Rabbit,... Scotland definitely punches above its size.

On the folk Trad scene there is outstanding talent both young and old – Karine Polwart, Braebach, Rura, Blazin Fiddles, Dick Gaughan, Rab Noakes, Blue Rose Code, Dougie MacLean, Skerryvore, Julie Fowlis, many more

Alexander MacColl Smith
I attend Edinburgh Book festival each year, which was begun in 1983 and is the UKs oldest book festival. Scots literature is not only thriving, but producing some of the worlds best known writers – Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Iain Banks, Christopher Brookmyre, Alexander MacColl Smith, Ali Smith, Alasdair Gray, more …Dundee games industry is a world leader and now also boasts the iconic Dundee V & A designed by Kengo Kuma.-

What has been a problem is Scots institutions being run by outsiders who don’t value or understand Scot’s traditions or history. I studied art, history at school in Edinburgh, in the 70s, but learned nothing of Scots culture, history or heritage. I’m now teaching myself and learning of our great enlightenment, art and song.  For decades, no centuries, there has been deliberate policies to suppress Scots culture.  

II  Since the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999 twenty years ago, there has been renewed confidence to believe in and understand our rich Scots traditions and heritage. Artists are now proud to sing in their Scots accent. Gaelic is more popular than ever. My local folk club is flourishing. We also have many highly respected academics such as the distinguished historian Tom Devine, along with 4 fo the world's top universities. 

Scotland is creative and bold, but we allow other places (such as London) to make money out of our creativity. Big London outfits are profiting from turning Edinburgh into a Scottish Disneyland of the North. More money must be kept in Scotland to improve roads and infrastructure. We must teach more business in Schools and how to protect and keep the money here in Scotland: and build our own infrastructures.

For our size our cultural contributions are outstanding. They are also grassroots, rather than top down by some Big Label machine – and in my opinion much healthier and creative for it. 

**Special mention to artist and writer Alasdair Gray 1934 – 2019. We have just lost one of Scotland’s great artists and innovators. I took photos of him Edinburgh a few years back – what a great character! 

Tuesday 23 June 2015

**BOOKS worth reading on Scottish independence

Scotland Cultural Past; Our Independent Future by  Paul Henderson Scott. A former diplomat, Rector of Dundee university.
Follows the broad questions around Scottish Independence - with informed, easy to read articulate essays.

The English invented the legend of Brutus and made up false accounts of the Union. Most Scots were opposed to it- including Walter Scott.  Scott was no unionist, he argues contrary to what some writers put out and cites his essays Malachi and others which have been largely ignored. 
"The process continued with radical argument, political campaigning, the discovery of oil, nuclear subs on the Clyde, the Iraq War and above all by the example of the outstanding success of the other small European nations which have recovered Independence."

*Arguing for Independence; Evidence, Risk and the Wicked Issues by Stephen Maxwell.  Paul Henderson Scott states this book as the most comprehensive on Scottish Independence and that Maxwell writes of his life long work. He is a master of the issues -   the democratic, economic, social, international, cultural and environmental arguments.

Whaur Extremes Meet: Scotland's Twentieth Century by Catriona Macdonald

Unstated: Scottish Writers for Independence.

Arts of Independence by Alexander Moffat and Alan Riach. Explore cultural arguments for Scottish independence.  How the arts fire the imagination.

The Stone of Destiny by Ian Hamilton - made into a film in 2008.
Hamilton writes, ' On the morning of 11 April 1951, I left Glasgow with Bill Craig. At Stirling Bridge we thumbed    a lift from a car driven by Councillor Gray, which contained the Stone of Destiny, now carefully repaired. at midday we carried it down the grass-floored nave of the abbey and left it at the high later. It was a crucifixion.
When we turned away and stood for a minute at the gate, and looked down the long nave flanked by the blood-red sandstone of the wall s to the alter where the Stone lay under the blue and white of a Satire. I heard the voice of Scotland speak as clearly as it spoke in 1320.

Monday 18 May 2015

Scottish Renaissance

Frightened Rabbit
In 2009 we celebrated 250 years since the birth of our national poet Robert Burns with many events and concerts across Scotland..

Today in 2015 rock bands like Frightened Rabbit can sell out US venues and are signed to Atlantic records. They have developed their fan base worldwide while being based in Scotland. Also the band The Errors, an electric rock band, say they don’t need a London office to communicate today. According to radio DJ Vic Galloway PR and Publishing continue to be based in London.

Scotland over the past decades has hosted some of the world’s most successful arts programs and events. T in the Park is the UK’s second live event; Celtic Connections is one of the main worldwide roots music events. Edinburgh festival is the worlds biggest arts festivals.

Twenty years ago people might have mocked folk singer songwriters The Proclaimers Scottish accents – and now it is normal for musicians here to sing with their Scottish accents and write about where they come from and be proud!.

The band Twilight Sad say that ‘American audiences sing back to us in pretend Scottish accents!’ Great!

Our main festivals encourage a great deal of cross-collaborations which are highly productive and illuminating. Folk singer songwriter Karine Polwart has spoken of the special musical collaborations that are welcomed here between different artists. As long as we continue to welcome and embrace other cultures – as we do whole heatedly at our arts festivals.

The internet has broken down barriers too and this cultural identity and pride in your roots has been happening elsewhere. 
Biffy Clyro

The question remains whether cultural revivals have driven devolution – I can’t help but feel they have. It is part of the crucial debates over our distinctly Scottish identity. 
Today many young musicians are less affected by the Radio One formula sound. It used to be Scottish artists felt second rate, but no more!

Frightened Rabbit, ‘Now there is more confidence about staying in Scotland. ‘