Talents Cross the Cultural Border

The Journal (Newcastle, England), February 9, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Talents Cross the Cultural Border


THE relationship between the North East, Cumbria and Scotland is steeped in history. Walls and borders feature as apparent barriers between two nations, however, there are many cultural connections.

Having lived in Cumbria and Newcastle for most of my life, I had been a regular visitor to Scotland, attracted as much by its arts and architecture as its natural beauty and landscapes.

I'd been drawn to Edinburgh for the festivals, Glasgow for the Capital of Culture and Dundee for its contemporary arts centre.

Having crossed the border to run Creative Scotland, it is clear that despite some key political differences the North East and Scotland have much in common.

They both have strengths in the arts and culture, deeply rooted in tradition but also embracing thriving contemporary creative practice.

Projects such as the Sage Gateshead and Baltic are recognised north of the border and have established partnerships in Scotland.

The Sage Gateshead is working with the new centre Mareel in Shetland and there are strong Celtic connections in traditional music and jazz. The Baltic has collaborated with the National Galleries of Scotland and Live Theatre with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.

The North East was well represented in the Edinburgh festivals with Northern Stage, Live Theatre, Ballet Lorent and Sarah Millican all playing to critical acclaim at the world's largest cultural showcase last year.

Scotland is well represented in the North East with the Scottish National Jazz orchestra, Scottish Opera and the Proclaimer's musical Sunshine on Leith all heading south.

On moving to Edinburgh I asked for a list of festivals and was amazed to find that there are more than 280 annual cultural festivals in the country. The combined impact of these events is a year-round offering of cultural activity similar to the ambitions of NewcastleGateshead's work.

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