Scottish independence: Artists plan festival

Actor Alan Cumming with First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Actor Alan Cumming with First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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ARTISTS campaigning for Scottish independence are to stage their own festival in the run-up to the independence poll, they have revealed.

The National Collective movement, which was formed two years ago, has revealed plans for a “major cultural event” likely to take place next summer.

Organisers are billing the one-off event as the focal point of the cultural movement for independence next year.

Communications director Michael Gray said it was too early to say what form the event would take, but it is expected to feature a mix of live performances, panel discussions, workshops and special guest speakers.

A host of big-name artists have already backed the independence cause and are expected to be actively involved. Many of them were angered after the Edinburgh International Festival said it would not be directly addressing the debate in next year’s programme.

Supporters of independence include actors Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Peter Mullan and Elaine C Smith, musicians Aidan Moffat, Karine Polwart, Dick Gaughan, Dougie MacLean and Eddi Reader, comic Frankie Boyle, artist Alasdair Gray, and writers Alan Bissett, David Greig, Liz Lochhead and William McIlvanney.

Several leading musicians were spotted sporting “Yes” badges as they performed at last weekend’s Scottish Traditional Music Awards, including members of the bands Breabach, Blazin’ Fiddles and Battlefield Band.

National Collective has announced plans for the festival on its website, along with the creation of a cultural manifesto, which the artistic community in Scotland will be urged to help shape and to sign up to next year.

It is understood its festival – which would be part of Scotland’s busiest ever calendar of arts events next year – will be aimed at teenagers, students and younger voters.

Mr Gray added: “We have around 1,600 members signed up to the National Collective at the moment, around 150 of whom are pretty actively involved in campaigning, and there are groups up and running around the country. We’ve already had some discussion about a festival for next year. We don’t have a definite plan in place for it yet, although it’s likely to be in the early summer.

“Working with others, we aim to bring Scotland’s artistic community together in 2014 to build on the cultural excitement and energy that is in favour of Scottish independence.”

Meanwhile, the official Yes Scotland campaign, which unveiled a number of celebrity backers when it was launched in May last year, including Hollywood stars Cox and Cumming, is also thought to be planning a high-profile cultural event next year.

Details are being kept under wraps until the new year, however the campaign will first be taking a performing arts roadshow around the country under the banner of The 2014 Social Club. The first was held in Edinburgh on St Andrew’s Day, headlined by new bands Stanley Odd and Teen Canteen.

A spokeswoman said: “Yes Scotland will be continuing our campaign as the biggest grassroots movement in Scotland by having a presence at events – big and small – across the whole of the country.

“Culture is one of the many platforms on which we engage with the people of Scotland and is a great way to encourage people to get involved in this unique opportunity to take our future into our own hands and create a better, fairer and vibrant country.”