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Jordi Albareda on Fair Saturday: 'We will only change the world through little steps. Let's take one'

Jordi Albareda on Fair Saturday: 'We will only change the world through little steps. Let's take one'

credit: Douglas Robertson

With the inclusive festival and global movement continuing to expand each year, founder Albareda tells us what to expect from this year's celebrations in Scotland

The idea for Fair Saturday initially came to life in 2014, when 20 choirs and three soloists got together and organised 18 concerts across the city of Bilbao. With 8000 attendees and around €8000 raised for various charities, it was seen as a resounding success, resulting in the birth of the participatory cultural movement that we know today. With the movement returning to Scotland on Sat 30 Nov, as a key part of Scotland's St Andrew's Day celebrations, we catch up with the father of the idea, Jordi Albareda, to hear more about what the future holds for the project …

How did Fair Saturday start and what were your main goals for the movement?
Fair Saturday was born in Bilbao in 2014 as a crazy idea: would it be possible to trigger a massive mobilisation around culture on the day after Black Friday? And what if the accelerating driver would be social empathy instead of greed? The only requisite for a cultural organisation to participate in Fair Saturday is to support a social cause. We want people to think about the kind of world we should build for the future.

What was the general reception to Fair Saturday when it started? And how has it grown in the past few years?
We were lucky to start in the Bay of Biscay, a basque region very committed to social issues. We convinced 20 choirs to perform in different parts of the city, with each one supporting a social cause of their choice. Everyone wondered 'who is going to attend my concert if we all perform at the same time?' But the response was amazing and it was an exciting day. Then we started to spread the message with some new socially-committed cities joining up such as Malaga, Santander, Huelva, Bristol and Lima. And Scotland was the first country to embrace the movement nationwide. It is a win-win-win model. You gain a day for the cultural ecosystem; you gain a day for the social sector; and you gain a day for humanity. And you spark many other positive initiatives for the rest of the year. We estimate that there will be Fair Saturday events in more than 100 cities worldwide this year.

Why are arts and culture so important to the movement?
Arts and culture are not important: they are essential. We should value the role that thousands of artists and cultural organisations play everyday. We should value their work in the same way we value material things. Culture must be a priority of every city and region.

Why did you decide to combine Fair Saturday with St Andrew's Day?
Scotland is probably one of the best countries in the world to lead Fair Saturday. There's culture everywhere, combining tradition and a brave look towards the future. I still remember the first meetings we had with some Scottish leaders: 'we want to be part of it', they said immediately. Fair Saturday fits very well with some values that Scotland wants to foster worldwide: being open, connected, fairness, diversity, inclusivity. And the reason to combine it with St Andrew's Day celebrations, apart from the similar date, is to enhance national celebration making it more open and inclusive to all Scottish people.

Last year was your first time in Scotland. What are you hoping to achieve the second time around?
The first year is always the most difficult one. Despite this, the engagement from many cities and communities all across Scotland last year was amazing. We reached around 85 events in 23 different locations. In 2019, we would love to spread the message to as many cities and towns as possible.

What are you hoping that people will take away from attending St Andrew's Fair Saturday?
Fun. Smiles. Reflections. Inspiration. The courage to place human beings' needs at the centre of our daily lives. I would hope to take a little step towards this. We will only change the world through little steps. Let's take one.

St Andrew's Fair Saturday, various venues, Scotland, Sat 30 Nov. Registration is open at standrews.fairsaturday.org.

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