Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival will be joining forces with event producers, scientists, sustainability experts, community organisations and traditional music groups to launch a nationwide “grow your own” network of harvest season festivals.
It is hoped the Scottish Government-backed project will help encourage a new generation of musicians and cultural producers to emerge across Scotland through a mix of events and commissions through what is being billed as “the largest grow your own project of modern times.”
Local communities and schools will also be encouraged to start growing their own food as part of the Scotland-wide venture, which will be launched in Glasgow in November to coincide with the staging of the COP26 international climate change summit in the city and is expected to run until next September.
It is hoped hundreds of thousands of people in at least 50 different locations will participate in the project, which will represent Scotland in UK Festival 2022 and is expected to have a budget of at least £7 million.
Key participants include Aproxima Arts, a new company set up by environmental arts producer and Beltane Fire Festival founder Angus Farquhar, who has previously staged outdoor events at The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and Glen Lyon in Perthshire.
Also involved will be Neil Butler, a producer behind events like the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow and Big in Falkirk, BEMIS Scotland, the body representing the ethnic minority voluntary sector in Scotland, traditional arts group Fèis Rois and Scotland's Rural College.
Instigated by then Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 and adopted by Boris Johnson when he took over in Downing Street the following year, the £120 million festival has since won the backing of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The successful Scottish bid aims to become the “biggest grow your own project of modern times,” with the aim of empowering people across the country to “grow and share food and music.”
Donald Shaw, creative producer of Celtic Connections, said: “A big part of the project will be about encouraging and enabling people to grow their own food.
“Alongside that will be the idea of growing new music. We will be commissioning a lot of young producers and new music. The fruition and culmination of that will be a kind of celebration of harvest festivals all across Scotland.
"Our idea is to start empowering people in the arts to create their own event. It’s about nurturing all the amazing talent that is sitting within all our communities in Scotland.”
Mr Farquhar said the collective working on the project was drawn from all parts of Scotland, with many of its members having only met online during the research and development of the successful bid.
He told The Scotsman: "It was really important to us that this project wasn’t just going to be focused on Edinburgh and Glasgow and we’d just tell everybody else what to do.
"It’s going to be genuinely about the rural meeting the urban and the urban meeting the rural, as that’s what makes Scotland so interesting.
"We’re genuinely going to make a real effort to connect with lots of people who wouldn’t get the chance to get involved in this type of thing.
"COP26, the biggest climate change conference in the world, is coming to Glasgow in November. We’re poised as a country to really do something.
"We want to use the next few months to build some amazing partnerships around the country. It feels like the right idea at the right time.
“Everyone in the team has been involved in big events before, but this is the job of a lifetime.”
Paul Bush, director of events at government agency EventScotland said: “Scotland has a long and proud history of innovation and invention - it’s a place where great minds connect and collaborate.
“We’re delighted to be able to support a hugely passionate and committed team to continue showcasing Scotland’s wealth of originality through the development of a wonderful project which has community spirit, creativity and sustainability at its very heart.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “This is an important opportunity to support freelancers and organisations in these sectors as we begin our recovery from the pandemic.
"I look forward to seeing how the successful Scottish team develops in the next phase of this collaborative project.”