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The Great Tapestry of Scotland returns to the Scottish Parliament for 2014 Edinburgh Festival

15 Jul 2014

Scotland's history presented in an unparalleled work of collaborative art

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is more than just an unparalleled work of collaborative craft. At 143 metres in length, with 160 panels depicting the history of Scotland from the formation of the rocks to the creation of Scotland’s parliament, it’s an…

Allan Brown - Fifty People Who Screwed Up Scotland

20 Jun 20141 star

Dreadfully written high-pitched jeremiad full of factual errors

To criticise this book for being sour, petulant and pusillanimous would be to miss the point. Brown’s shtick is snark and he’s sticking to it. Indeed the whole series to which this high-pitched jeremiad belongs depends upon a certain sixth-form…

Summer Festivals 2014: the five best fests for culture vultures

20 May 2014

Featuring Solas, Yestival, Bloody Scotland and the Edinburgh Mela

Solas Festival A 10-minute drive from Perth, the picturesque Bield at Blackruthven hosts the fifth Solas Festival this summer. With events for all ages, Solas is a breeding ground for exciting political and cultural debate – Alasdair Gray and Liz…

The 2014 Scottish independence referendum debate is about power, not politics

22 Jan 2014

We have relinquished power to the political classes, but how many of us actively seek involvement?

As someone whose work is words, I find myself increasingly uneasy about the manner in which the campaigns both against and for independence are being conducted. Both sides have made many different kinds of appeals for our votes: political ones, emotive…

Extract: How We Should Rule Ourselves by Alasdair Gray

22 Jan 2014

Glasgow artist and author has written several political pamphlets on home rule

As Edmund Burke is often said to have remarked, ‘all that has to happen for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing’. We believe that we are a sovereign people. If we are unhappy with our present system of government in Britain, all that stops us…

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The strength of Scottish culture should give us the confidence to continue to connect with our neighbours

22 Jan 2014

We have much to celebrate together and a wide range of emerging new talent to encourage

It is often said that decisions need to be taken by the head or the heart. In the debate leading up to the referendum in September, the discussion has so far mainly focused on the economic and political issues. What exactly would independence mean in…

Rab C Nesbitt: The Govan philosopher on the 2014 Scottish referendum debate

22 Jan 2014

"This referendum will be asking me who I’d prefer to be marginalised by: Holyrood or Westminster?"

The great philosopher John McVicar was jailed for his beliefs. Since his main belief was armed robbery that was hardly surprising. From Durham jail he opined that the Scots were the best footballers in the prison yard but usually lost because they would…

The 2014 Scottish independence referendum debate is an important act in itself, regardless of the outcome

22 Jan 2014

Process of rethinking how we want our country to be in the future isn’t just a means to an end

It boils down to a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but behind the ‘thumbs up, thumbs down’ vote this September is a large, complex and shifting debate that has repercussions for every aspect of our lives. Some people are complaining of ‘referendum fatigue…

Flash fiction: New writing inspired by the 2014 Scottish independence referendum

22 Jan 2014

Prose and poetry on Scottish independence by Samuel Best, Simon Williams and Harry Giles

Quilt. By Samuel Best. It was autumn when I began to dig at the edges of my garden. I’d been getting headaches for a couple of weeks and thought some peace and quiet might do some good. The doctor told me a lot of people had similar problems and…

Blythe Duff and The Killing's Sofie Grabol star in Edinburgh International Festival theatre trilogy

20 Jan 2014

The James Plays trilogy by Rona Munro brings Scottish independence debate back to 2014 festival

Following denials last year that the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival would go anywhere near the Scottish independence debate, a major trilogy of plays on the theme of Scottishness has been announced for this year’s Festival. The James Plays are a…

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Edinburgh Fringe shows explores stories of Anna Politkovskaya and Yulia Tymoshenko

15 Jul 2013

Ines Wurth and Badac Theatre present shows dealing with prominent women in Eastern Europe

Every year, Amnesty International gives an award to a play on the Fringe that presses the right artistic buttons and spreads the word about human rights. When the judges come to consider this year’s Freedom of Expression Award, two shows in particular…

Iain Macwhirter - Road To Referendum

10 Jun 20134 stars

The political commentator's book is a vital contribution to the discussion on Scotland's future

Iain Macwhirter’s Road to Referendum is easily the most accessible piece of writing concerned with the independence debate. Not only one of the shrewdest commentaries on Scottish politics, it is also an important tribute to the country’s…

Reel Iraq festival explores contribution of culture and creativity to Iraqi life

22 Mar 2013

Talks, film and music in programme including Hassan Blasim, Leila Albayaty and Lord Erregal

It’s ten years this month since American missiles first found their range on Baghdad amid the shock and awe campaign that kicked off the second Iraq war, and as a culture we – Iraqis and Westerners – are still trying to reconcile, piece together what…

Andrew Dixon of Creative Scotland speaks to Parliament

19 Sep 2012

Chief executive of Scottish arts body clarifies organisation’s policy

Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, yesterday explained the organisation’s policies during a session at the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee. The meeting came after several high profile members of the Scottish arts community spoke…

Why has Creative Scotland been under sustained fire during 2012?

18 Sep 2012

The questions surrounding the debate over Scotland's arts funding body

The appearance of Creative Scotland’s chief executive Andrew Dixon in front of the Scottish Parliament’s education and culture committee on Tuesday 18 September reflects the arts community’s deep concern about the competence of the national funding…

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Edinburgh Festival of Politics event charts history of political satire

11 Jul 2012

Talk with Martin Rowson, Tom Shields and Tommy Sheppard

There was a moment during an especially bitchy session of Prime Minister’s Questions in April that said much about how satire can influence the centre of British political debate. With David Cameron reeling during an angry exchange on the Budget, Ed…

Young People’s Day debate at Edinburgh Festival of Politics

11 Jul 2012

Does the world of British politics cater for country’s young people?

Young voters are valuable. At their first election, many teenagers choose the political party to which they will align for life; it would be wise, surely, for the parties to make sure they get them early. But there is obviously still a failure to…


25 Jun 20124 stars

Incisive TV politcial satire by comedy writer Armando Ianucci

Armando Iannucci recently stated that Veep should not be viewed simply as a US The Thick of It. Certainly, there’s no obvious Malcolm Tucker figure bellowing and bullying all and sundry and while the language is ripe, the swearing is not quite so…

International Women's Day 2012 events

29 Feb 2012

Round-up of talks, exhibitions and events surrounding Thursday 8 March

In Glasgow, Scottish Women’s Aid will be running an all-day seminar to discuss perceptions of domestic abuse (Thu 8 Mar, Wolfson Medical Building, University of Glasgow, 9.30am). Talk of the Steamie, a new series of talks at the People’s Palace, are…

Interview: Doug Stanhope on politics

16 Feb 2012

The controversial comedian discusses his political beliefs ahead of his UK tour

How would you describe you political views? I don’t really like describing myself in those terms, but if I had to, I’m kind of an anarchist, just in a quiet way. I’ve been following the election at the moment [for the Republican presidential…

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Opinion: MSP Joan McAlpine on same sex marriage

6 Jan 2012

The need for equal marriage rights for Scotland's same-sex couples

The introduction of civil partnerships in 2004 meant many people believe we already have gay marriage. Lots of us have celebrated the union of gay friends and family. Thirty years ago, few gay people were allowed to be open about their sexuality. Thank…

Wigtown Book Festival: Beyond the Arab Spring

6 Oct 2011

Rosemary Hollis, Martin Bell, Robert Irwin and Robin Yassin Kassab

This year has changed many of us who only had a vague idea of the kings and dictators who have made life hell for many people in North Africa and the Middle East, suddenly we are much better informed as the electrifying events of the year have unfolded.

Life and Debt

22 Sep 20114 stars

Heartbreaking and pertinent documentary about Jamaica's economic misfortunes

Made the year after the launch of the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel third world debt at the beginning of the new millennium, Stephanie Black’s agitprop documentary looks at the case of Jamaica. In 1977, fifteen years after achieving independence from…

You've Been Trumped - Anthony Baxter interview

22 Sep 2011

Director of Donald Trump doc on being shunned by Scottish film bodies

‘I live in Montrose and it’s 40 miles south of the Menie Estate, where Donald Trump was planning to build his golf course resort. I read the newspapers every day and I was surprised that the coverage was so one-sided. The other side of the story, as I…

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

13 Sep 2011

Annual arts festival returns for biggest year yet

Unless you’ve been gently nestled under some rock for the past several years, you will probably be aware of the annual autumnal arts treat that is the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF). This year’s brochure boasts almost 300 events…