ED2013 News ED2013 Week1 Edition

Reaching out with a new identity: Just Festival

By | Published on Tuesday 6 August 2013

Soweto Melodic Voices

Edinburgh’s Festival Of Spirituality & Peace, which has been slowly growing during the city’s festival month for over a decade now, has a new name for 2013.  And organisers hope that, as the Just Festival, their eclectic programme of performances, talks, workshops and film will reach an even wider audience.

“This is our thirteenth year” Director Katherine Newbigging told ThreeWeeks, “and not at all unlucky for us! We’ve grown each year from our small beginnings in 2001, to becoming a festival in our own right in 2007, to launching the new name earlier this year. And while originally a partnership between St John’s Church, Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, Edinburgh International Centre For World Spiritualities and Creative Space, we now have over 70 different organisations involved across the project”.

Billed as “an annual celebration of culture, faith, philosophy and ideas”, religion is obviously a theme running through this particular outpost of Edinburgh’s festival month, though it has never been just for the religious. “Our focus is on diversity” says Newbigging, “and that, of course, includes all of the different faith groups, and non-faith people, and of all ages too. We want to see as many people as possible getting involved with our events this year”.

The new name is part of that mission to reach out as widely as possible. “We wanted to take the festival to a wider audience, including those without a faith background who are interested in social justice issues and world cultures. We also want to show that our festival is a modern, vibrant one that combines thoughtful discussion with joyful celebration and is a space for people to have fun and make friends”.

With theatre, music, dance, spoken word, films, workshops and talks amongst its programme, the Just Festival is like a mini-Fringe in itself. With such an eclectic line-up, Newbigging is predictably hesitant to pick out highlights. But pushed she says: “We’re definitely excited about the play ‘Tejas Verdes’, marking 40 years since the Chilean coup d’etat, our series of award-winning European films showing at The Filmhouse, and a concert of Japanese folk music near the start”.

“I must also mention Soweto Melodic Voices” she adds, “Africa’s national choir champions, personally backed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This choir of 40 young people, many of whom are orphaned or from severely disadvantaged backgrounds, fundraises for children who are abandoned, abused, disabled or HIV positive”.

Soweto Melodic Voices, two of whom are pictured above, are performing thrice daily until 23 Aug, and they even provided a snippet of their performance to the ThreeWeeks podcast team, which you can check out here.

LINKS: www.justjust.org