Festivals and venues adapt to new-look Fringe

WITH the Edinburgh Festival Fringe moving online this year, many of the city’s venues and festivals are adapting to a very different kind of August.

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit, which would normally take place at the Scottish Parliament, has moved online.

This year’s speakers include Assal Habibi, an assistant research professor of psychology at the Brain & Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, who investigates the relationship between music and the brain and how learning music can enhance cognitive, social and emotional development.

Other participants include British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum director Tristram Hunt, and the Trojan Women Project, which has been creating joint therapeutic drama and advocacy projects for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Europe since 2013.

Ken Macintosh, the Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer, said: “The importance of our cultural landscape has become even more apparent as the current crisis has developed.

“The manner in which we access culture might have changed, but being able to engage with art, theatre or music will have been a small piece of normality for many, in what have been difficult and trying times.

“This year’s summit will provide a chance for us to consider how we ensure that this vital and vibrant sector can continue to be a source of joy and stimulation for so many people.”

‘Funshine on Leith’

Invisible Cities, a social enterprise that supports people who have experienced homelessness, has joined forces with Leith Comedy Festival to create “Funshine on Leith”,  a series of comedy walking tours.

The show has been written by Paul, an award-winning tour guide, who said: “I am excited to showcase Leith in a different way and be part of Leith Comedy Festival.

“After several months of not being able to do our tours, it’s great seeing guests again who want to learn and have a good time with us.”

Zakia Moulaoui Guery, founder of Invisible Cities, added: “Paul is one of our most-experienced Edinburgh guides and his work is constantly praised by five-star reviews online from our customers.

“He designed this tour specially for Leith Comedy Festival and it is nothing but different, thought provoking, fun and a bit outrageous.

“For Invisible Cities, it also marks our definitive return after so many months not being able to do tours, so we are all excited to see Paul in action.”

Just Festival blends online and in person

Meanwhile, Just Festival – Edinburgh’s social justice and human rights festival – is marking its 20th anniversary with a mix of online and physical events on 16-23 August.

Communications agency ELE Global has supported the festival with digital communications, project management, social media and event promotion.

The agency’s chief executive, Helen Foord, is also a member of the festival’s board.

Helen Trew, who was appointed recently as the festival’s director, said: “Despite all of the logistical challenges and physical social distancing restrictions, we decided to carry on and rethink our programme in a way that would best maintain the unique spirit of the Just Festival and create the space for people to gather online to discuss those issues that most affect our lives today with our fantastic range of eclectic and expert panellists.

“This year has brought serious difficulties to our lives, and we are mindful of the insecurity left by the lockdown for many people – as a result, we have decided not to charge for our events however, if you are able, we would appreciate your support through our donation scheme on registration, which will enable the Just Festival charity to sustain its work.”

Summer at Summerhall

The Royal Dick Bar at Summerhall is now opening seven days a week to keep up with demand for drinks in its courtyard.

The arts venue – which is housed in the former University of Edinburgh Royal Dick Vet School – normally hosts shows and exhibitions during the Fringe.

Summerhall has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise cash to keep the arts venue in business following the loss of this summer’s festivals.

In other arts news, the first Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh takes place on 18-27 September, with free access to 20 films, including 10 British premieres.

Read more stories about how Scotland’s businesses and communities are bouncing back from the coronavirus lockdown on Scottish Field’s news pages.