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Fair Saturday: 'A movement that puts culture before consumerism, social empathy before greed and idealism before materialism'

Fair Saturday: 'A movement that puts culture before consumerism, social empathy before greed and idealism before materialism'

Fair Saturday launch, Edinburgh

As the open and participatory cultural movement arrives in Scotland on St Andrew's Day, co-founders Jordi Albareda and Saioa Eibar tell us more

St Andrews Day – Scotland's national day – is not typically something Scots are known for making a song and a dance about; yes, some may raise a whisky, wear a bit of tartan, or attend a ceilidh – but as it's not a 'proper' bank holiday, the majority famously under-celebrate. However, this may all be about to change with the arrival of Fair Saturday, an arts and culture mobilisation movement born in Spain's Basque Country and coming to Scotland to celebrate St Andrews Day.

Fair Saturday began in 2014 when 22 choirs and three soloists got together and organised 18 concerts across the city of Bilbao. The premise was that the concerts started at the same time, so there was something for everyone, and for each show to support a different social cause. The reaction was unprecedented and resulted in 8,000 attendees and 8,000 euros raised for good causes. From this, Fair Saturday was born, and with the hard work of the project's co-founders, Jordi Albareda and Saioa Eibar, it grew into an open and participatory cultural movement that was to take place annually on the day after Black Friday.

To host an event at Fair Saturday, the event in question has to help a social cause in three ways: by honouring their work and publicising it to an audience; by allowing the charity to do a short presentation before the event, highlighting their contribution to society; and by giving money to the cause through an artist-agreed percentage of ticket income or donation collections. 'This was the first step in the creation of a movement aimed at boosting arts and culture as essential to build fairer, stronger and well-developed societies' explains Jordi Albareda. 'It's a movement that puts culture before consumerism, social empathy before greed and idealism before materialism. That is Fair Saturday.'

When the first official edition kicked off in 2015, hundreds of artists from around Spain joined the 18 initial concerts in Bilbao, to create a gathering of 200 events in 45 different cities. Altogether it generated a staggering 70,000 euros for social causes. Since then more cities have got involved with the concept, including cities as far away as Lima, Peru. There are now official hubs in the likes of Milan, Pisa, Bristol, Santander and now Scotland will join the list as the first country to take a nation-wide approach to Fair Saturday celebrations. Saioa Eibar notes, 'Fair Saturday is growing step by step, with the goal in mind of becoming a global celebration of arts and culture while supporting social causes.'

Fair Saturday: 'A movement that puts culture before consumerism, social empathy before greed and idealism before materialism'

From left to right: Jennifer Caswell (Team Leader Dundee City Council), Joanna Plimmer (Arts Officer, Bristol City Council), Elise Hurcombe (Senior Arts Officer, Bristol City Council), Melissa Inman (Senior Events Officer, Bristol City Council), Jordi Albareda (Founder, Fair Saturday), Ben Macpherson (Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development), Lorea Bilbao (Minister for Culture, Basque and Sports for the Provincial Council of Biscay), Xabier Ochandiano (Councillor for Economic Development, Bilbao City Council) and Elena Tobar (Councillor for Culture and City Promotion).

Arts and culture are at the heart of Fair Saturday's values and Albareda stresses this is the pillar in which it is built on. 'We believe that arts and culture are what gives us a sense of meaning as a human being. No matter the age, origin or gender, we all vibrate to music. Culture has a tremendous power to bring people together and it is a strong source to promote and enhance values that are sometimes forgotten.' Eibar adds, 'It is sometimes difficult to realise how much an artist influences his community. They are the invisible heroes of our society; those who make us feel, think and act in a different way. Fair Saturday wants to contribute to showing that massive role that arts and culture can play to build a more solid and fairer future.'

So why choose to expand to Scotland for St Andrew's Fair Saturday? It turns out the choice was down to Scotland's perceived openness to all and its arts and culture scene. 'When we thought of Scotland we thought of diversity, social empathy, multiculturalism and definitely, arts and culture. What better place is there to start something like Fair Saturday', muses Albareda. Eibar continues 'This is why Fair Saturday is being introduced in Scotland as part of the wider celebration of St Andrew's Day. Creating a day to boost Scotland's unique personality, arts and culture, social empathy and the celebration of St Andrew's Day.'

Communities across the country have already signed up for the very first St Andrews Fair Saturday, with a programme of more than 70 events in 20 different towns and cities set to take place. Ultimately, Jordi Albareda and Saioa Eibar hope that the day helps people reflect on what they want to see from their futures and that it will inspire a celebration of arts and culture in a meaningful way. Jordi Albareda also sees it as a day that will connect people and lead the way for bridges to be built in communities in the future, given the fractured times we live in. 'Probably not this year, but we believe that movements like these, a sum of small but strong acts of kindness around the world, can make a significant difference.'

St Andrew's Fair Saturday, Sat 1 Dec, various venues. Some events also take place outside of this day. Full programme available now.

St Andrews Fair Saturday

For the first time the Fair Saturday Foundation along with the Scottish Government are bringing Fair Saturday to Scotland. The inclusive festival supports social causes through a celebration of arts and culture and is part of the wider celebrations for St Andrew's Day.

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