The plight of Hidden Door

The winner of last year’s “Best Cultural Event” at the Scottish Thistle Awards, the not-for profit Hidden Door Festival is in dire need of funds.

Edinburgh is a deeply creative city. There’s always something going on, a festival or a show or a gallery opening or a theatrical event – always something, right up to the Fringe Festival itself. Hidden Door Festival is one such event, and it’s a pretty good one at that. Hidden Door seeks to give a little limelight to lesser known performers and artists, as well as putting on a few big acts to make sure there’s a hell of a show.

Hidden door CREDIT - Tom Parnell

Photo Credit: Tom Parnell

The non-profit, all volunteer festival’s final distinction is its reclamation of unused and derelict spaces around the capital. This came to a head last year when the festival resurrected the old Leith Theatre while the festival was on, which also paved the way for the theatre to stage several events during the Fringe Festival during the summer.

All funding from the event goes back to the contributors and to funds future festivals. Hidden Door has made amazing progress in utilising old, forgotten parts of the capital. All this could be lost, however, as the organisers are struggling to make the money needed to put on the festival next year.

Originally, the goal was to raise £80,000 between August and December. However, as the end of the year approaches, the festival has only managed to raise a quarter of its goal. There’s two options: if the festival raises its initial goal, the annual 9-day event goes on as planned. If at least £40,000 can be raised, there will be a Hidden Door “weekender” – the same promotion of emerging artists, the same fascinating venues, but across a smaller timescale.

Hidden door 1 - CREDIT TO Tom Parnell

Photo credit: Tom Parnell

Essentially, Hidden Door needs your help. One can either donate directly on their fundraising website, or you can attend the Hidden Door Christmas Art Sale this weekend at Skylight Cafe. The sale, which takes place on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th will feature 200 artworks donated by supporters of the festival as well as the emerging artists that have been part of the festival in past years.

In conclusion, while the capital has a lot of cultural events, losing any of them is a blow to Edinburgh’s unique reputation. Also, none of the shows, galleries, and gigs can take place without a little bit of support being thrown behind small-scale artists – this is exactly what Hidden Door exists to do. So please, support this festival in any way you can. It’s a pretty worthy cause, and when it’s on next year, you’ll be very happy that you did.

 

Scottish Vegan Festival back for another year at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange

 

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The Edinburgh Corn Exchange was packed with activity on Saturday. Photo by Olivia Hill.

The Corn Exchange was full to the brim on October 20 as visitors flocked to the many stalls available at this year’s Scottish Vegan Festival.

The festival has been successfully running for the last two years and is the ideal event for vegans or those eager to learn more about veganism. Organised by Farplace Animal Rescue, an animal sanctuary and campaigns group, the Scottish Vegan Festival hosts a series of stalls including many hot and cold vegan eats, cosmetics, clothing and animal rights charities.

There are currently around 600,000 vegans across the UK and as the number of vegans increased by 350% in the last decade in Scotland alone, it seems to be a trend that will continue to rise in popularity. Whatever reason it may be — for, ethical, dietary or weight loss — there is a growing interest in how and why people should adopt a plant-based diet.

This rise in the number of people taking on a vegan diet means there is an increase in demand for vegan options, not just at restaurants, but in other public places such as schools and hospitals. ‘Go Vegan Scotland’, a group of volunteers who spend their time away from work trying to encourage others to see the benefits of veganism, was at the Scottish Vegan Festival campaigning for the introduction of legislation which would guarantee plant-based options on every public sector menu.

Barbara Bolton, a volunteer for Go Vegan Scotland, spoke about how the group approaches conversations about veganism with those who may be interested in or unsure of adopting a plant-based diet.

”We have information stalls where people approach us, ask us what they want to know about veganism and we try to have conversations with them to bring out what they think about other animals and whether or not they are truly comfortable with killing them when we don’t have to,” she said.

”Every time we buy a product that has come from an animal, whether it’s from their body or we have taken their eggs or their milk, what lies behind that is animal exploitation. So we tease out from people whether or not they’re genuinely comfortable that they’re spending their money, paying people to use and kill other animals for them.”

Barbara also emphasised that it’s important to approach veganism in a certain way in order to stick to it:

”If you think of veganism as a diet or a lifestyle, then you may find it challenging but when you understand what veganism really is, when you understand veganism is simply living in a way that respects other animals’ right to exist and that it’s about not exploiting and killing animals, then it will become much easier.”

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Lots of vegan treats were available on display including these Halloween inspired doughnuts. Photo by Olivia Hill.

The festival also provides small businesses with an opportunity to showcase their products in a suitable environment.

Emma Lean, from new independent clothing company ‘East Coast 88‘, said the festival was a great place to introduce people to their products:

”All of our t-shirts are organic, they’re all printed using water-based inks and they’re all  Fair Wear Foundation certified as well which means the people who have made them have been paid a living wage, they’re in a safe environment and they’ve got workers rights as well.”

”We wanted to get our name out there and we wanted to meet people who would be interested in buying the t-shirts. So we started coming along and I think this is our 3rd festival so far and it’s been the best one. The atmosphere here has been really nice, it’s really cool.”

The festival was heaving with ticket holders who had come along to try delicious vegan eats and buy the latest vegan-friendly clothes and cosmetics. But there were also a number of animal rights charities present, including OneKind, Scotland’s largest animal campaign group.

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OneKind sells vegan-friendly t-shirts to help fund their campaigns. Photo by Olivia Hill.

OneKind has held a number of successful campaigns including Scotland’s ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. Sarah Mackenzie, the events and volunteers officer, discussed its latest campaign.

”The campaign we’re running today is to stop the growth of the salmon industry in terms of salmon farming in Scotland. At the moment the welfare issues within the industry are unacceptable and we’re asking the Government to put a stop to the plans for growth before these issues are dealt with.”

There is a significant problem with sea lice (parasites that feed on the scales and flesh of the salmon) on Scottish salmon farms and mortality rates are extremely high; 11 million salmon died last year alone. If you would like to learn more about this campaign, click here.

The Scottish Vegan Festival will be back on April 7 and October 20, 2019. To keep up to date with the latest news, take a look at their website here.

 

 

Preserving Scottish Gaelic heritage and culture through the Royal National Mòd

Culture and history are two of the key motivators for visits to Scotland and the Highlands and Islands, and they play an important part of the visitor experience. Scotland is rich in history and archaeology — from World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends.

However, there is a fear that Scotland is risking the irrecoverable loss of its heritage by abandoning the use of its native language — Scottish Gaelic. Only 57,375 people which is the equivalent of 1.1% of the Scottish population aged over three years old, are reported as able to speak Gaelic.

Luckily, the Gaelic community is actively trying to preserve its culture and traditions, and the Royal National Mòd is one of them.

The Royal National Mòd is the main music festival of Scottish Gaelic literature, songs, arts and culture and is one of the more notable peripatetic cultural festivals in Scotland. It is the most important of several other Mòds that are held annually. This year it was held in Dunoon and was organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association).

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The Royal National Mòd 2018 programme

The festival ran from October 12 to 20 and included many competitions and awards for people as young as seven years old. Whether you are fluent in Gaelic or still learning the language, everyone was welcomed to take part.

Ricky Hannaway, an Assistant Floor Manager and Runner Co-ordinator working on the Mòd, spoke about what impact festivals like this one has on the Gaelic community.

“There are only about 60 thousand Gaelic speakers,” Ricky explained. “So, to have a situation where you can put more emphasis on the culture, where people learn old songs, where people learn old arrangements of things when they learn instruments to go do musical events, it’s really good.

“Our culture is an oral tradition where we pass everything on, all the information, through word of mouth, spoken stories and songs. So now that we’ve got a place and a platform to do that it’s really good.”

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Dunoon presents… The Royal National Mòd 2018

During the Mòd festival, people celebrate old traditions of the Gaelic culture. But some believe this isn’t the best approach to keep the language alive, Ricky said.

“Some people don’t have an opinion of the Mòd of something that’s good, they think it’s a bit detrimental to the culture, thinking we’re always looking backwards. But I think it’s something that can preserve what we’ve got but has a forwarding outlook as well.”

Not only does Ricky work in the festival, but he also competes in it.

“It’s an absolute experience to be a part of the Mòd,” he said. “For years I sang in the Mod and I never knew anything about the media side of things. Now doing the media side of things, it’s great and it’s adventitious because I know the people involved in putting the Mòd together.”

Fangtastic Halloween Events

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Photo Credit: Ash Pryce

It comes as no surprise that during this time of year things take a turn for the supernatural. With Halloween creeping up on us, Edinburgh gears up for an epic array of events that will test even the unspookable. These are just some of the highlights.

The Séance at Edinburgh Dungeon                                                                       6 Oct – 4 Nov

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The Edinburgh Dungeons. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

Throughout the city, the mention of Burke and Hare raises shivers up the spine as they carried out some of the most horrific and legendary crimes within the history of Scotland. On Halloween 1828, they murdered their last victim Madgy Docherty after a night of drinking and singing. Their fun came to an end that night as lodgers who grew suspicious of Burke and Hare called the police. Just eight years later, high above the city in a crook on Arthur’s Seat, a group of schoolchildren found 17 small coffins all containing miniature dolls thought to be representatives of Burke and Hare’s victims placed as a symbol for their proper burial.

Edinburgh Dungeon now bring a unique and potentially chair clutching experience where a Séance is held to contact the victims, who languish in the afterlife, tormented by the fate that had befallen them and help them reach a state of peace in the next life.

Ticket Price: £14.95

 

Frankomime’s Monster at The Banshee Labyrinth                                      26 Oct – 31 Oct

If you intend to delve thoroughly into the horrors of Halloween then a must see is this adults-only show which features gruesome characterisation and suitable mutilation of some classic horror songs. As part of the Edinburgh Horror Festival and to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, the show promises to deliver a very unique experience for audiences.

Ticket Price: £5

 

Edinburgh Horror Festival at various locations                                           26 Oct – 31 Oct

Halloween Poster - credit to Ash Pyrce.jpg

Photo credit to Ash Pryce

It’s like your best nightmare come true: the Edinburgh Horror Festival will take over the city during the Halloween weekend. In the form of a micro convention, stalls, shows and talks will take place at the Banshee Labyrinth and Lauriston Castle.

Look out for Fringe Festival favourite Ash Pryce, who will return to the city for the EHF with another exciting act entitled ‘Psychic Conman Live’. The show will feature Ash flexing his psychic abilities with the audience and diving deep into their minds for answers they may not want to give. Prepare for a spooktakular weekend.

EHF will bring together a stellar array of ghoulish delights as it introduces horror fans to MonsterCon, a special event during Saturday 27th, for a feast of horror films and eerie books. Special guests include Dacre Stroker, a distant descendant of Bram Stroker, who remains the only living person able to produce new official Dracula material. Another star appearance at the event is Gordon Rutter, author of Paranormal Edinburgh and founder of the Edinburgh Forteans, who is well known for his investigations into the supernatural hotspot, the South Bridge vaults.

Tickets: £12 for MonsterCon convention

With such an amazing array of boo-witching entertainment across Edinburgh through October, why not get out to see it all … while you still can.

 

Women gather in first beer industry collaboration

A group of female brewers are set to come together in the industry’s first collaboration to create their very own limited edition craft beer.

Jenn Merrick, founder of London based brewery; Earth Station plans to join together with a leading team of 24 other female brewers, Heriot-Watt University students and lecturers to celebrate the craft, creativity of past, present and future female brewing.

Heriot-Watt currently offers the first and longest running degree on Brewing and Distilling, where 50% of the lecture staff are female.

The team of professional female brewers will work closely with a new generation of brewers from Heriot-Watt, who currently offer the first and longest running degree on Brewing and Distilling, where 50% of the lecture staff are female.5200218267_c1f27410bd_b

Assistant Brewing Professor Rachel Sutherland at the university praised the collaboration and said;

‘This is a fantastic opportunity for our female students to collaborate with some of the leading female figures within the craft beer industry.’

‘Beer has, throughout history, been crafted by women and our students are proudly upholding this tradition, showing the next generation what they can look forward to.’

The limited edition beer will be will be available at beer festivals across the country, hosted by We Are Beer, a company who aim to promote modern beer, bringing breweries, beer lovers, musicians and brands together to celebrate the diverse and dynamism of modern brewing culture.

Founder of We Are Beer, Greg Wells, who commissioned the collaboration project, said;

The kettle sour will be available at each of We Are Beer’s festivals in Edinburgh, London and Bristol, and will later be released in small, limited edition multi packs.

 

Edinburgh Restaurant Festival returns for fourth year

The Edinburgh Restaurant Festival kicked off this week, with foodies flocking to over 20 restaurants around the city.

The festival is back for its fourth year, and will see lots of completely different eateries showcase the best food and drink they have to offer. Restaurants from The Ivy on the Square to Las Iguanas will offer deals throughout the day up until the 25th of February, attracting hundreds of visitors.

Edinburgh Restaurant Festival 2018 participants | Image Credit: EdinEvents

The main event of this year’s festival will be the Moveable Feast – a tour of the city’s best restaurants. Diners will get five meals in five different places.

The Edinburgh Restaurant Festival website says that guests will get a starter and a paired drink at Gaucho and “a quick palate cleanser” of the new eteaket and Mackies tea sorbet. This will be followed by a main course and drink in the newly refurbished Rosehip, dessert at Tigerlily and a nightcap in Hyde and Sons. Tickets are priced at £50 per person, and are set to be one of the festival’s bestsellers once again.

A new addition this year is The Secret Dining Experience, where guests will get to try food in a top secret, surprising location. Tickets for this event are £30. More tasting sessions will take place throughout the city, and there will also be a lot of events to get tips from top chefs, recipe ideas and competitions.

For more information about the festival, head to http://www.edinevents.com/edinburgh-restaurant-festival/

 

New Scottish festival is ‘not replacing’ T in the Park

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The organiser of a new Scottish music festival, TRNSMT, has told BBC Newsbeat he is “not trying to replace” T in the Park. With both festivals being coordinated by Geoff Ellis, he maintains they can run parallel to each other in a complementary way.

The festival-goer favourite celebrated its 22nd anniversary last year, however 2017 sees T in the Park taking a hiatus.

Instead, TRNSMT will run for its first year in Glasgow Green from 7-9 July. Dubbed as T in the Park’s sister festival, so far the line-up includes acts such as Kasabian, The 1975, Radiohead and Biffy Clyro.

 

 

 

3029564_f4d0eb8eT in the Park will not run in 2017

 

Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, Ellis said, “I don’t think you can replace T in the Park.”

“TRNSMT is on the same weekend that T in the Park would traditionally have been on, but I think that is where the similarities end. One is an urban, city centre event and the other is a rural camping event.”

“Next year maybe we’ll run a camping festival and have TRNSMT in the city centre as well.”

Geoff Ellis also told Newsbeat he is annoyed with the difficulties T in the Park has experienced, but they are “water under the bridge” now.

The festival that has ran for over two decades has been called off this year after problems with planning permission, transport links and the site at Strathallan Castle.

Top 7 reads for 2017

In an age of technology, social media and endless time-devouring apps, what better gift to give this festive period than a quality book to unplug from the world with? As this week is Book Week Scotland here is our top 7 best reads published in 2016 that will keep you and your beloved ones enthralled during the winter months through to the New Year.

Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult)

imgres#1 New York Times bestselling author for Leaving Time Jodi Picoult, now presents an empathic novel which tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice and compassion through the story of Ruth Jefferson, an Afro American labour and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital. After being reassigned to a different patient at the request of white supremacist parents, the baby goes into cardiac distress. Ruth hesitates to perform CPR, and as a result is charged with a serious crime.

Before the Fall (Noah Hawley)

imgres-1This book has made it to the Goodreads final round for Best Mystery & Thriller novel. Going from the tragedy of the disappearance of ten people in the ocean after a crash near New York, and their back stories, Before the Fall raises questions of fate, human nature, and the ties that bind people together.

The Summer Before the War (Helen Simonson)

imgres-2Touching, profound and inspiring, The Summer Before the War is set at the end of the last calm summer at East Sussex before the First World War starts. The arrival of a free thinking and attractive Latin teacher at the coastal town of Rye, stirs up the small village. Meanwhile the unimaginable is coming and soon the limits of progress, as well as the old ways, will be tested as the people from Rye go to war.  

A gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

imgres-3Modern Russian history will get you hooked quickly with this historical fiction written by Amor Towles. Count Alexander Rostov is the main protagonist, who is sentenced to home arrest for writing a poem. Rostov is confined to the corridors of Moscow’s Metropol Hotel, just across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov adjusts to the life inside the hotel, while the most tumultuous decades in Russia are happening outside. He explores the hotel, creates bonds with the staff and ends up having a meaningful relationship with the attractive and spirted young girl Nina. Reviewers agree that “this book more than fulfils the promise of Towle’s stylish debut, Rules of Civility (2011)”.

Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi)

imgresThis is the story of two half-sisters with very different fate: one is sold into slavery and the other married to a British slaver. Homegoing is a portrait of the memory of captivity, along three centuries of history and two continents. Gyasi was born in Ghana and immigrated to the United States and now has given voice to those suppressed people in a very captivating novel.

All the Birds in the Sky (Charlie Jane Anders)

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All the Birds in the Sky is a fantasy novel about the end of the world, and the beginning of the future. Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead are childhood friends living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. The first is a genius engineer working to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing of global climate, and the latter has been educated in the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted. Let your imagination fly with this story of love, life and a dark future.

The Nest (Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney)

imgres-5Family and money are the mainstays of this warm and funny novel by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Four siblings reach a breaking point when an accident endangers the family’s joint trust, “The Nest”. They need the money to pay daily american expenses such as a mortgage, university tuition fees or give back money they had borrowed. This is a story of how money affects relationships, what happens to human ambitions over the time and ties we share with the ones we love.

Book Week Scotland 2016

Scotland’s annual November Book Week Scotland is back in town this week until the 27th of November. It is a week not only for book lovers but people of all ages who want share their passion for literature.

According to the Daily Record, even the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has joined the week’s endeavours and dared students at St Conval’s Primary in Glasgow to write reviews of books they have read, inside the books themselves, for future readers to pick up.

She went on to explain the importance of building and expanding the “reading culture” across schools.

“Book Week Scotland’s dares are a great way to excite children about reading and […] encouraging children to develop a love of reading from an early age through fun activities,” stated Sturgeon.

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This is a week event hosted by the Edinburgh UNESCO World City of Literature Trust, a registered charity that that goes by the name “The Trust”, a team of enthusiasts with a “story-fuelled passion” for books.

The Trust’s CEO, Mark Lambert, explained; “Book Week Scotland is the perfect time for teachers and parents alike to get their children enthused about the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.”

The Trust have organised for Scottish talents, poets, illustrators, authors, storytellers, to engage with book-aficionados from all walks of life across the city in libraries, community venues and schools, to talk about the inspirations in their work.

Creative Scotland’s Arts and Engagement Director, Leonie Bell, also expressed her excitement about the fifth year of Book Week and how it is “a real celebration of Scotland’s incredible literary culture, from new writers to old favourites.  With an outreach programme ensuring that everyone across Scotland is able to enjoy the magic of reading and a plethora of book-related events, talks and dares to embark on, Scottish Book Trust is taking us on a reading adventure like no other.”

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Book Week Scotland challenges you to get involved and be dared. So how can you take part? Click here to be assigned a ‘random dare’ and perhaps read a new genre you’ve never explored before. Share your dare with the hashtag #BookWeekScot and get your family and friends to join in too.

To learn more about Book Week Scotland go to www.bookweekscotland.com. Follow them on Twitter @Bookweekscot and on their Book Week Scotland Facebook page.

Come and see Luminate Festival this month

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Festival City Theaters Trust Silent Space performance

Luminate Festival celebrates our lives as we age and so far it is the only festival engaging seniors in creative arts. Since its launch in 2012 it had tremendous success in collaborations and international projects specially planned for the festival.

Luminate is trying to shine a light on the importance of creative activities to the well-being of our seniors, by involving them into a wide range of events, hosted by a wide range of cultural and community organizations. In addition to the public programme, Luminate includes Outreach activities which take the festival to care homes, sheltered housing communities and local groups across the country.

Through the month of October the festival is running dance, drama, music and visual arts performances. A series of creative workshops will also be taking place during this month in different communities across Scotland.

Luminate director Anne Gallacher said: “I am delighted that the growth of activities in care settings as well as dementia friendly events means that Luminate is becoming increasingly accessible each year. Creativity has no age, and once again this October Luminate shows the breadth of opportunities that are available nationwide.”

Browse events calendar to find activities taking place near you throughout October.

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