P Craig (Letters, 24 August) demonstrates a truly depressing mind-set by asserting that appointing people from England to arts posts in Scotland is an example of, “inferiorism when confronted by our more powerful neighbour”.
Surely a more confident reaction would be to welcome the contribution English people (and others) can make to the vibrancy of culture within Scotland without diluting the “Scottishness” of the art that is produced north of the Border.
As Alasdair Gray himself pointed out in his talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival, one of the most ground-breaking plays in Scotland during the 1970s (The Cheviot the Stag and the Black, Black Oil) was written by Liverpool-born John McGrath; Vicky Featherstone, in her stint as the first artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland was instrumental in the success of another landmark Scottish play in Black Watch; and Leeds-born James Brining, as well as contributing to making Dundee Rep one of the most dynamic theatres in Britain, was responsible for directing the award-winning Sunshine on Leith. Would the Scottish cultural scene have been richer without their contribution?
And if appointing people from south of the Border to Scottish arts posts is somehow diluting Scottishness, then a lot of artists and writers don’t seem to have heard about it. Painters such as John Bellany and John Byrne still produce vibrant work that is shaped by their Scottish background and (wildly differing) writers such as Alexander McCall Smith, Irvine Welsh and the late Iain Banks have all written books that demonstrate the distinctive diversity of modern Scottish life to both domestic and international audiences.
But another disturbing aspect of P Craig’s letter is that it seems to advocate some sort of cultural purity that shouldn’t be tainted by outside influences.
We live in a multicultural world and society is in a continual state of change. The London my parents grew up in between the wars is not the London of 2013.
As David Goodhart pointed out in his fascinating article (Perspective, 23 August) the “white British” population of London is now just 45 per cent – it’s what makes it one of the most interesting and dynamic cities in the world. In the same way the Scotland of Trainspotting is very different to that of Sunset Song.
In the month when we have seen performers and artists from all over the world congregating in Edinburgh and enriching Scotland’s cultural life, P Craig’s view seems to demonstrate a particularly insular perspective. Scotland is strong enough to welcome fresh, new ideas from other parts of the UK and the wider world while still retaining its own distinctive cultural voice.