Monday, 22 June 2009

Gibson praises Scottish Festivals

News release
Immediate release


Festivals are a valuable contribution to the future, celebrating place, aspects of human activity and the life of our communities in Scotland said former festival orgainser, sometimes performer and Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson .

He was speaking during a debate on the financial success and quality of life that festivals bring to the country in Parliament last week.

During his speech he used the example of Wick HarbourFest [due from 26th to 28th June] to illustrate the outlook and effects of festivals in Scotland….

"The celebration of various parts of the country is epitomised by the fact that people like to have a good time. I suspect that we have developed festivals that try to make things better for us in a harsh climate. I hope that the climate will not be too harsh the weekend after next in Wick, where HarbourFest has been resurrected. It was started in 1937 and has taken place occasionally since then. It raises the aspirations of Wick folk for the importance of the historic harbour and its future. It was such a fantastic celebration two years ago that it was decided to try to make it a regular event. Indeed, it is hoped that, eventually, sailing ships and others will join us in the north and use the string of marinas that has opened up, and that HarbourFest will be a part of that."

He also spoke of festivals and celebrations yet to come, those that should be and those that are.

He called for a festival to mark the 160th anniversary birth of Robert Bontaine Cunningham Graham the Scot who co founded the Scottish Labour Party and later the SNP as well as travelling and writing on both Scotland and peoples around the world. He also said that it would be a sin if there was no world class facility at Bannockburn to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the battle in 2014.

He asked for wide ranging support for the proposed festival of Island Cultures …

"The local authorities that control the 96 or so inhabited islands in Scotland are planning a festival of island cultures in 2011. I hope that the whole Parliament and all the parties can get behind celebrating that particular aspect of our lives, and that we ensure that we invest in that festival to give islands their place in the future."

Mr Gibson pointed to the success of the Hands up for Trad folk awards (due to take place in Dumfries this year on at the end of November which will help mark the end of the homecoming year) as an event which is now a celebration of all traditional culture and the festivals that take place throughout the year. 'A great way to close the year of culture' he said.

He said that the new UK immigration rules that deter non EU artist from performing in Scotland should be dropped and called on the new Home Office minister Alan Johnson to do so.

Calling for wider media coverage at a reasonable hour of Festivals he said...

"Festivals and culture need to be celebrated more in our media. We talk about people's right to see particular international football matches on terrestrial television, but I believe that a sample of our cultural phenomena ought to be available to us as well, and not in the middle of the night. I hope that the Government will take up the free-to-air issue with the UK Government. Parts of the Edinburgh festivals, Celtic Connections and so on deserve to be shown for more than half an hour late in the evening."

He called for a standard way to work out what financial benefits actually give the local economy…..

"In a recent Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee meeting, it was pointed out that patterns of activity in the years before and after festivals need to be considered before differences can be measured. Measuring the success of the year of homecoming will be difficult because of that. Nevertheless, the small investment in the year of homecoming has been welcomed throughout the country. I see that at festival after festival, some of which I have taken part in.

He ended by saying…..

"I hope that we not only continue to celebrate, but consider what has worked and what should work in the future, and that we plan well for the festivals that celebrate our life in Scotland."


Note to editor

link to Festival debate:

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