Edinburgh International Book Festival announces community program and civic events in August
Throughout the year, the Edinburgh International Book Festival brings together authors, artists and audiences to inspire each other, share stories and bring books to life through its long-running community programme. In August, a selection of events, designed both for and by those who participate in the program, will take place in the context of the Book Festival, as well as at other locations across the country, in person and online. .
From free event screenings starring Brian Cox and Nicola Sturgeon at a rural cinema in Aberfeldy, to a series of in-person author visits to hospitals, libraries, schools and prisons, these events help highlight the theme of this year’s Book Festival. Together Now, bringing books to life for people of all ages in their own communities, as well as at Edinburgh College of Art’s Book Festival Village.
Noëlle Cobden, Director of the Communities Program at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “We are delighted to welcome so many different communities to the Book Festival Village in August – from our group of citizen writers and the collective citizen who have worked with our Writers and Poets-in-Residence all year (some longer), to a group from Deaf Action who will be attending Sarah Smith: Hear No Evil, an event that uses a fusion of sign language, image and performance, it’s great to see such variety returning in 2022. We’re also excited to be able to pull what we’re doing in August off the Book Festival site by hosting author visits to communities who may encounter barriers to attending our festival site and organizing free event screenings for rural communities.
After two really difficult years, during which many individuals, groups and communities became increasingly isolated, it was so important to us that we involve as many people as possible in what we do. We continue to be grateful to both the People’s Postcode Lottery players and the talented collaborators and partners who make our Communities program possible. »
Some of the hardest hit by the pandemic have been young people, in part due to disruption in schools, so this year’s Book Festival brings together education pioneers to dream up the creative and bespoke frameworks needed to support young people in an event called Education Stands the Test of Time. Panelists include The Black Curriculum campaign founder Lavinya Stennett; Emma Easton, Head of School at The Spartans Alternative School, Ian Midwinter, CEO of Scran Academy, and Alexander Boys, former member of The Citizen Collective, the Book Festival’s writing group for 16-18 year olds.
Aimed at young people and adults alike, Planète Citoyenne! asks the question “what would the planet look like if you designed it?” Asked by Ryan Van Winkle, Writer-in-Residence for Schools, it’s a question he’s explored with local students at St. Thomas of Aquin’s RC High School as part of Citizen, and throughout the month. August, people of all ages are encouraged to come (11am – 5pm) to explore the world they have created in a multimedia installation. Featuring works by Natalie Doyle, Faith Eliott, Lotte Fisher, Caitlin Hynes, Seamus Killick, Emily Randall and Natasha Russell, audiences can also join free 30-minute tours at 11am, 2pm or 4pm every day of the festival.
Stories and Screen, which celebrates the dynamic and challenging work created by local people, returns for its third year. Audiences can enjoy a treat courtesy of the Scran Academy alongside a diverse showcase of readings, stories and short films from the North Edinburgh and Musselburgh communities, in person or from the comfort of their own homes . Not only that, but Scran Academy attendees will be treated to a treat from them thanks to author Jack Monroe, who will be hosting a one-of-a-kind event just for them on Thursday, August 25th.
Another key citizen event, One Day Ticket, is a collaborative work for the scene written by citizen participants with community writer-in-residence, Eleanor Thom, which follows a fantastic transport map through Edinburgh, where stories are told and thoughts unfold creating a series of narratives. snapshots seen from a train car with an unknown destination. Still in development, the cast will perform with scripts in hand, and again this event is Pay What You Can and will be both live and available to stream.
To celebrate the Scottish Year of Stories 2022, in the spring the Book Festival Communities team launched a crowd-sourced storytelling project which placed professional writers in community settings across five Scottish local authority areas . Andrew O’Hagan has worked with inmates at HMP Kilmarnock and Mae Diansangu with resettled Syrian women in Aberdeenshire. In Clackmannanshire, Bea Webster collaborated with a group of D/deaf adults, while Roseanne Watt created film poetry with young people in Shetland, and in Edinburgh, Siân Bevan created stories with children at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. The stories give insight into present-day Scotland from different parts of the country and from different perspectives. Val McDermid will host Scotland’s Stories Now, a very special multi-arts extravaganza that highlights these stories from across the country.
As part of Scotland’s Stories Now, the book festival has also asked people across Scotland – of any age, background or ability – to submit their own stories by responding to the ‘On This Day’ prompt. The result has been a fascinating portrait of Scotland in the here and now, and throughout the festival different contributors from across the country will share their snapshots of life through the power of words in free daily sessions at 5pm in the story time yurt.
Not everyone can attend Book Festival events in person and this year Book Festival is working with a range of partners and institutions to bring authors there. Through the Story Nation programme, the joy of the book festival will be offered to those who otherwise would not be able to access it, through a weekend of events at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, as well as author visits to six Scottish prisons, a local high school and the Streetreads library, a place dedicated to homeless readers. Gabriel Krauze will host an event at HMP Edinburgh, while Cressida Cowell, Alex Wheatle and a performance of There’s a Tiger in the Garden will tour the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. Alex Wheatle will also visit Craigroyston Community High School and Ryan O’Connor will attend Streetreads Library.
In Aberfeldy, a selection of this year’s Book Festival events will be shown live on the big screen at the Birks Cinema. Free, these will include events with Alexander McCall-Smith and Serhii Plokhy on Wednesday August 17, Alan Cumming on Monday August 22, Ian Rankin on Tuesday August 23 and Brian Cox in conversation with Nicola Sturgeon on the final night of the Festival, Monday August 29.
With the support of People’s Postcode Lottery players, the Communities program has expanded its activities to bring the essence of the Edinburgh International Book Festival to the road around Scotland.