Festivals, Cultural and City Events

Edinburgh Culture Conversations

The University of Edinburgh Culture Conversations is an online event series bringing together members of the public, artists, academics and cultural leaders to debate how the arts and creative sectors can help society recover from the effects of Covid-19.

People from around the world are being encouraged to take part in a series of online discussions to examine how the arts and creative sectors can help society recover from the effects of Covid-19.

The Edinburgh Culture Conversations bring together members of the public, artists, academics and cultural leaders to debate the future shape and purpose of the culture sector.

The 10-week series – hosted by the University of Edinburgh – is taking place against the backdrop of the cancellation of most of Edinburgh’s Festivals, which had been due to take place this month.

Janet Archer, the University of Edinburgh’s Director of Festivals, Cultural and City Events, chairs the weekly conversations which debate the value of creativity, not only to the arts, but also to society and the wider economy.

The online debates began on Monday 13 July, with the first conversation considering the question “How can we keep the Festival spirit of internationalism and interculturalism alive?” Since then, a wide range of cultural topics have been explored and debated by an eclectic array of contributors.

Distinguished guests include singer-songwriter Karine Polwart, the Edinburgh International Festival's Fergus Linehan, Scots Makar Jackie Kay. Jackie Wylie Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Theatre of Scotland and David Greig, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre.

Members of the public are being encouraged to submit questions during the debates, which are being streamed live. The resulting recordings are available online for people to watch after each event.

The Conversations are being staged in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh’s new centre for interdisciplinary learning and research. The Edinburgh Futures Institute – which will be housed in the city’s iconic former Royal Infirmary building – will showcase the University’s expertise in the humanities, social sciences and arts, alongside its sector-leading work in data science.

The University, its students and staff play a key role in the Edinburgh festivals each year. In 2019, 1.2 million Fringe goers visited venues on the University campus, which hosted 65 individual theatre spaces, bars and offices.

BSL/English interpreters will be available at all events.

1. How can we keep the festival spirit of internationalism and interculturalism alive?

First in the series of discussions to take place on Monday 13th July at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording of the event available here now.

2. What do we need to do to plan for future festivals and cultural events?

Second in the series of discussions to take place on Monday 20th July at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording of the event available here now.

3. How are artists responding to the pandemic? Which work from this period will we remember and how will it influence future practice?

Third in the series of discussions to take place on Monday 27th July at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Watch the recording of the event here now.

4. Have the arts helped communities stay connected and safe in a time of social distancing?

Fourth in the series of talks to take place on Monday 3rd August at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Watch the recording of the event here now.

5. How can the creative industries impact on our changing world?

Fifth in the series of talks to take place on Monday 10th August at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording available here now.

6. How do the arts affect societal and cultural behaviours? Why does creativity matter not just to the arts but to our whole existence as human beings?

Sixth in the series of talks to take place on Monday 17th August at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording of the event available here now

7. Prediction is that there will be lasting damage to mental as well as physical health as a result of the pandemic. Can the arts contribute to helping people stay well?

Seventh in the series of talks to take place on Monday 24th August at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording of the event available here

8. How can Universities help cities adapt and reset civic life post Covid-19? How do the arts and humanities play into University of Edinburgh’s 2030 Strategy?

Eighth in the series of talks to take place on Monday 31st August at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording available here now

9. How do the creative industries use data?

Ninth in the series of talks to take place on Monday 7th September at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording available here now

10. What kinds of future cultural innovations will emerge during the Covid-19 period?

Tenth in the series of talks to take place on Monday 14th September at 6pm. Produced by the University of Edinburgh's Festivals, Culture and City Events Team and hosted by Director, Janet Archer. Recording available here now